21 Replies Latest reply: Jan 29, 2019 11:25 AM by feibus RSS

    Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.

    peg'schoice Contributor

      I file my FL State and Cnty taxes each month on-line.  In the past, I paid by my checking account.  It cost me zero $'s, in fact, I received a discount (.025%) when I did.  Now it looks like Yapstone is charging me their 3% CC fee to pay taxes.  UGH!!  What the heck!.  That adds up to near $ 1,000/yr  for my 5 properties.  And I still have to file a return each month. ABNB doesn't charge and they pay taxes also.  Am I missing something - Another expense and completely out of our control.  HELP!

        • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
          feibus CommunityAmbassador

          You are misunderstanding.

           

          Yapstone is charging you the 3% to collect the tax money from the guest, not remit it to Florida.  Just like before Dec 1 when you collected the tax money, they charged you 3% to collect it from the guest.  Just like every CC processor would.  It's just broken out now in the direct deposit email, which is definitely confusing to contemplate until you try to run the numbers as though you were the one collecting and remitting the sales tax and you'll see it's the same total.

          • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
            floridarob Active Contributor

            feibus is correct in his assertion that from an out of pocket expense point of view, nothing has changed with respect to CC processing fees for sales taxes paid by the guest, BUT...

             

            I used to receive those funds when the guest paid them!  It may not seem like a big deal, but from a cash flow point of view, having and holding money, even if it isn't yours is always a good thing.  For example, my bank charges me a bank fee if my balance is under a certain amount - if it is over the threshold, no fee. So it costs me money to not have these funds in my account, funds that I am still legally responsible for to the tax authorities.

             

            The thing is, I have guests who will book and pay a portion of their rental up to 14 months in advance. They also pay the exact same portion of the taxes at the time of booking. So for 14 months, I am holding onto sales tax money that isn't mine, but which I must remit when I file my taxes the month after the guests actually come and stay. Take all of that money, add it up over time, and it DOES make a small difference.

             

            Now along comes HomeAway. Not only do they keep the sales tax funds for this period, but instead of only taking a portion of the sales tax, they charge the guest ALL of the sales taxes at time of booking, and I expect, also hold onto those (larger) taxes for 14 months prior to remitting them. (I'm not sure of the details of this, I will be doing a detailed analysis of payout amounts and when they happen soon.)

             

            For Homeaway to be holding the sales taxes on ALL of the Florida business they are processing is worth Millions of dollars in cash that they are holding, and probably making a reasonable interest amount on it too.

             

            BUT Homeaway wants ME to pay the CC processing fee for the cash that THEY take in and then remit to the government, because THEY chose to do it - apparently HomeAway set up this arrangement voluntarily.

             

            The bottom line is that HomeAway is charging me a CC processing fee for money that I don't receive. I don't process it, and I don't hold it. All this does is cost me time and money - my tax accounting and remitting is FAR more complicated now than it was before. This provides me with NO benefit. It costs me.

             

            And HomeAway has the gall to charge me for it?  I am so shocked and disappointed in HomeAway for taking this approach. If they want to charge the guest the taxes EARLY and hang onto that cash (or even if they don't) it is unconscionable and I think even immoral to charge me a CC processing fee for money that I never see.

             

            Is HomeAway so broke that they can't pay their own CC processing fees?  If HomeAway wanted and chose to get into the sales tax collection, management and remittance game, then they should be the ones paying for it - not making owners do it.

             

            HomeAway rightly doesn't charge owners for the CC processing fees for their own (HomeAway's) Service Charges. Why should they be charging owners for their own tax collection and remittances too? Remember, this is something HomeAway chose to do. No one forced them into it, and dare I say it, general consensus seems to be that most owners would prefer HomeAway not be involved in sales tax collection and remittance.

             

            If HomeAway was not charging me to do this, something that I really don't want, something that definitely doesn't "help me save time, and save money" as the annoyingly cheerful voice tells me when I'm on hold waiting for a CS rep, I wouldn't really care so much. It would be another annoying thing that HA has chosen to do that actually makes my life as an owner more difficult, but I could live with it, and wouldn't have any feelings about it either way. I would trade the small savings I got for the increased hassle HomeAway is thrusting upon me.

             

            But making me pay for it? No thank you.

             

            It is not a wash, and not the same as it was before. This is one of the most surprising and disappointing moves by HomeAway yet.

              • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                ohst8er Senior Contributor

                floridarob, I'm sorry, but feibus is the one that is correct here.   Nothing has changed, you paid a cc fee on the tax money before and you pay a cc fee on the tax money AFTER this tax change.

                 

                In 1997 I took a job at a small hotel company in Western NY.   We were paid weekly.  I remember that first Friday payday, the accountant walked into my office, handed me my paycheck and said something to the affect of, "I strongly encourage you to go to the bank listed on the check to cash this."  I had no idea what he meant.  The woman I shared an office with whispered, "Yea, go do that.  My last expense check bounced."  Apparently it was common knowledge that this company didn't bother to keep enough money in this account to cover such immaterial things as their employee payroll.   So, every Friday I spent my lunch hour driving to said bank, getting my entire paycheck IN CASH, then beating it over to my bank to deposit it.   This and a few other questionable things made me look for employment elsewhere.

                 

                I submit that the sort of people who don't keep enough money in their account to manage their business and end up using other people's money to FLOAT their business dealings is the VERY REASON VRBO is taking away control of such things as the security deposit (something I have a huge issue with), and now this tax thing.   Once again, a few bad apples....

                  • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                    peg'schoice Contributor

                    Not sure I understand, who the "few bad apples" are from your comments.  I also wonder if we will loose/scare away some potential bookings through HA with them now collecting my booking deposit ( $ 300), Service Fee and now 11.5% taxes all UP-FRONT!  That's can add up to some significant $$'s just to book...especially if the check-in date is many Months away.  Let's face it...the software staff probably consist of many programmers from  Airbnb.  The new HA - CRAZY rate scheduler (I hate it!) and now tax payments "look like" the Airbnb format. 

                      • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                        feibus CommunityAmbassador

                        Near as I can tell, it hasn't affected guests at all.  My booking pace is about what it usually is in January (which is on the crazy side of busy).  But I'm just one data point, certainly not enough to establish a "trend".  I just find guests will book if they want to book and look for an excuse when they don't.

                        • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                          ohst8er Senior Contributor

                          The "few bad apples" were people who collected security deposits from guests, but did not return them.  The few bad apples are the ones who think the tax money and security deposit money is actually THEIR money.  (you don't use OPM to float your checking account, that's just bad business practice.)  The few bad apples are people who collected taxes from guests, but didn't report them (or, didn't collect them at all).  The few bad apples were the ones who would take inquiries, but never respond to them.  The few bad apples were the people who would loosely manage their calendars and double book, or tell someone they had a confirmation, then "cancel" on them when they had a better booking. 

                           

                          I don't know if you ever tried to book VRBO, say, about 8 years ago, but it was a nightmare.  If you wanted to book a VR you would have to email about 10 different owners to get ONE to reply to you, sometimes a day later, sometimes a week later, sometimes several weeks later.  Sometimes the reply was "we are already booked," even though their calendar was open. .  That's why, even though I sent out  about 50 inquiries in a 2 year span, I booked exactly ZERO VR's, and instead went to Red Week dot com and booked timeshares instead.  And it's why when we joined VRBO as owners I swore I'd never be one of those "bad apples."   THAT'S why we can't control our own security deposits anymore.  That's why we all punch a clock to answer inquiries.  That's why we have ranking metrics, etc, etc etc.  

                        • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                          floridarob Active Contributor

                          ohst8er wrote:

                           

                          floridarob, I'm sorry, but feibus is the one that is correct here.   Nothing has changed, you paid a cc fee on the tax money before and you pay a cc fee on the tax money AFTER this tax change.

                           

                          In 1997 I took a job at a small hotel company in Western NY.   We were paid weekly.  I remember that first Friday payday, the accountant walked into my office, handed me my paycheck and said something to the affect of, "I strongly encourage you to go to the bank listed on the check to cash this."  I had no idea what he meant.  The woman I shared an office with whispered, "Yea, go do that.  My last expense check bounced."  Apparently it was common knowledge that this company didn't bother to keep enough money in this account to cover such immaterial things as their employee payroll.   So, every Friday I spent my lunch hour driving to said bank, getting my entire paycheck IN CASH, then beating it over to my bank to deposit it.   This and a few other questionable things made me look for employment elsewhere.

                           

                          I submit that the sort of people who don't keep enough money in their account to manage their business and end up using other people's money to FLOAT their business dealings is the VERY REASON VRBO is taking away control of such things as the security deposit (something I have a huge issue with), and now this tax thing.   Once again, a few bad apples....

                           

                          I never said feibus was wrong about what the net costs were to the owner. Go back and read the first line of my post. I didn't dispute what he said, nor say he was incorrect. I said he was right about the charges... but also pointed out that it isn't the whole picture.

                           

                          No one is using tax money to 'float' anything. My rentals run on their own gas, and have lots of it, thank you very much. Even suggesting such a thing is practically defamatory. It is also completely pointless and detracts from the point that I am making.

                           

                          HomeAway charges owners CC processing fees for money they collect. That is the bottomline, simple issue here.

                           

                          Are you trying to suggest that they are correct to be doing this? Why don't they charge CC fees on the service charge too, then? Using their logic (and I assume yours) they could simply claim that they wouldn't have a service fee to charge if it wasn't for the booking, which happened because the owner listed their property on their site, so they have the right to charge the CC fee for the service charge back to the owner. Would that be okay with you? (I should't be giving them any ideas...)

                           

                          My discussing the actual out of pocket costs that this move by Homeaway has for Florida owners doesn't imply anything, but your post certainly does. It is completely unwarranted.

                           

                          Please stick to the discussion instead of bringing up unrelated issues that have no consequence for the matter at hand. We are talking about the legitimacy of HomeAway charging owners CC fees for money that they never remit to the owner. If you want to start a thread about bad apples and bad actors in the vacation rental game, go for it. But don't you dare lump me in with that discussion.

                           

                          But as far as 'bad actors' go, all of those things you talk about solve problems that good, responsible owners never caused in the first place. Goodness knows I never did, nor did any of the other responsible legitimate owners I know. But now we all have to pay for it, because Homeaway is apparently (as you suggest) designing their policies to accommodate the bad apples. Setting policy to inconvenience the 98% of great 'partners' in order to deal with issues caused by the other 2% is a bad, antiquated approach to business. If the one thing the last 50 years of evolution in business has taught us, the most successful enterprises take extraordinary steps to take great care of the vast majority of their customers, even if it means being taken advantage of by the bad 2% who may try and pull something. The growth and overall success of the enterprise usually more than pays for it. Costco's generous return policy is a great example.

                           

                          And the bad actors you refer to who don't respond to quotes, and don't return deposits and all the other bad things they used to do? They would get flushed because they wouldn't get bookings, would accumulate bad reviews, and never build any return clientele. With HomeAway forcing all owners to perform in the same way, there is no distinction, and the bad apples are made to appear to be good - but nature is what it is, and bad owners will just find some other way to make guests upset outside of HomeAway's reach. And where will that collectively get us? I prefer to be defined by the quality of my own offerings, not what HomeAway says (or demands, or forces) me to be doing.

                           

                          And when guests do have alternatives to book properties without paying out such high initial booking deposits, why wouldn't that cause business to be lost to other venues? I have more and more guests trying to slide their bookings off the HomeAway platform, and when I encourage them to 'stay with the partner that brought them to the dance' they disappear. I lose the booking, and HomeAway loses the revenue from it.

                           

                          HomeAway won't provide me with enough bookings to fill my calendar. I would love it if they would, and they certainly could. They practically used too. But they changed so much, and now they keep accounting for less and less of my business, forcing me to come up with alternatives. And they keep making booking less convenient and more expensive when done through them, encouraging guests to look and book off the platform. That won't help build their business long term.

                           

                          How exactly would guests having to pay 60% higher deposits (explained in another thread) on Florida bookings impact your business in SC anyway? (Or is HA also charging and remitting taxes for you there as well?)

                            • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                              peg'schoice Contributor

                              Right on target.  NO bad apples in this basket....just trying to be fair and competitive and provide "value added" to our guest, especially in my situation with listing in FL.

                              • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                ohst8er Senior Contributor

                                Respectfully, you are the one who stated you use OTHER PEOPLE‘s money to float your bank fees, not me.  If you choose to get grumpy at me for pointing out how that’s poor business practice that’s on you.

                                  • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                    floridarob Active Contributor

                                    I didn't say that I 'float' bank fees. Nor did I say that I use other people's money to do it. What you are claiming as 'fact' (what you say I stated) is completely untrue, and recorded above for anyone to see. Making this claim is painting something (again) with a brush to try and color it as being different or worse than it actually is. Can we please stick to the issue at hand?

                                     

                                    Aside from the other points I have made (which you conveniently don't respond to) I simply stated that holding the tax money (which belongs to the state of Florida and the county of Polk) lowers my bank fees, just as I'm sure it does HomeAway's. I will 'get grumpy' with you if you try to paint things in a manner that is unfair or unreasonable.

                                     

                                    Securely holding the taxes I receive until it is time to remit them is not 'poor business practice' (there you go again...). It is what is necessary to do. What would you do with your sales taxes? Lend them to somebody else until it is time to remit them? Or put them into investments? Would you call that 'better business practice'? The funds aren't yours or mine to do anything with but hold them securely until it is time to remit them.

                                     

                                    Now that they are holding the taxes instead of me, are you suggesting that HomeAway is now using other people's money to 'float' their bank fees, and engaging in 'poor business practices'? (That may get you in trouble with the powers that be...)

                                     

                                    Why continue down a fruitless path? If you have anything to offer that responds to or disproves the points I have made, do share... but this?

                                     

                                    Pointing out that holding taxes securely lowers my costs of doing business slightly is not a reflection of good or bad business practice, it is simply a reflection of reality. Your trying to color my comments one way or the other to support your argument (whatever it is...) by distracting us from the real issues at hand, while simultaneously attempting to take shots at me, is totally unhelpful. It actually isn't respectful at all. (And no... I'm not being 'rude' by pointing that out.)

                                  • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                    jeanne38654 Contributor

                                    I agree. Collecting and HOLDING tax $$ for over a year is a huge windfall to homeaway, all in the name of "helping owners be tax compliant". I call BS on this. Why shouldn't I BE THE ONE COLLECTING INTEREST ON THIS MONEY? (I realize it wouldn't be much, but still...that's not the point). This just happened to me today - I had a renter book 2 months next winter/spring (2020) so those taxes won't be remitted until April of next year. Homeaway is holding a good chunk of the renter's first payment to cover this (but won't pay it for 14 1/2 months).

                                     

                                    Is this even legal? I know some states require owners to hold deposits in interest bearing accounts - with any interest accumulated being returned to the renter when the deposit is returned. How is this any different?? Who gets the interest on all this money they are holding? I think that's a legitimate question. And I concede - perhaps no one should ever be collecting interest on tax money. Maybe we all should have been returning the pennies accumulated over time to the renters. I dunno. But I think it's a legitimate question to ask.

                                      • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                        feibus CommunityAmbassador

                                        Your assumptions are incorrect.

                                         

                                        In Florida, the "booking agent" is required by law to collect and remit the tax.  This is written into the law.  The booking platforms were skirting this for a while by claiming they weren't the booking agent, but the agreements that Homeaway is putting in place with all those states is similar to what ABB has had to do to comply with state law.

                                         

                                        Second, that 3% CC fee on the taxes that is being collected?  At least 2.5% of that is going to VISA/Mastercard and the Visa gateway and Yapstone.  Maybe at most 0.5% is staying with HA (you can look up the VISA wholesale rates on cards to see this).  So HA has collected at about 2.5% less of the taxes than they have to remit.  Let them keep the puny interest I collect, I'm not out that additional money when it comes time to pay the taxes, Homeaway is.

                                          • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                            jeanne38654 Contributor

                                            GEEZ. Am I stupid? How do I edit or delete a comment? Ugh!!! Ignore my other two comments, please.

                                             

                                            feibus

                                             

                                            A.) I was wondering, out loud, if the state of Florida doesn't care about taxes collected and held for long periods of time and what happens to the interest on those funds. If Homeaway is the booking agent that's fine, I'm just curious about that. (And yes, I see your second item about it only being .5%...that's still a LOT of money across their portfolio!)

                                             

                                            B.) So the CC fee that is passed to owner isn't computed on the taxes? I haven't looked at the breakdowns yet. I also didn't realize that HA paid 2.5% to Visa. I guess I assumed they would have a lower rate negotiated due to their size.

                                             

                                            Separate topic, but one you might be able to help with - I started another thread and haven't received a response. But basically the question is, "When do I receive the funds to pay my local taxes?" HA collected full tax (12%) from a booking yesterday, and are withholding the full tax from my payout. But they only pay 7% to the state of Florida, and the other 5% I have to pay. When do I get those funds now? Is it after the guest leaves?

                                              • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                                feibus CommunityAmbassador

                                                If you go into the thread, you can delete the earlier two comments using the drop-down Actions button.

                                                 

                                                A) Florida doesn't care about the account or the interest that the funds are held in.  Other states, NC comes to mind, do care and specify what to do abotu that in their laws.  So HA has to navigate that on a state-by-state basis.

                                                 

                                                B) The CC fee does include the fee on the taxes, yes.  You'll see that in the breakdown on the direct deposit email.  That fee was paid before by you, just never broken out.  Visa wholesale rates for credit cards are anywhere from 1.8 to 2.4%, depending on the quality of the "rewards" with the card (debit cards a cheaper overall).  Then Yapstone gets their cut.  Then the gateway (between Yapstone and Visa) gets its cut.  Then finally, HA takes the rest.  There are some breaks for volume at each level, but overall it's not a huge amount relative to the volume they're processing.

                                                 

                                                In Florida: the first payment from the guest includes ALL taxes on the full transaction + X% of your rental portion (which is the part you control).  When it gets deposited 4-6 few days later, you get all the county taxes + that X% of the rental portion.  So unlike before when we really only got X% of the total sale in the first deposit, I'm getting about 5% more now, because it doesn't include the state taxes, but it does include the county taxes.  Example, my 25% first payment actually gets me about 30% of the total amount of money I'm owed, just because it includes 100% of the 6% county tax.

                                                  • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                                    jeanne38654 Contributor

                                                    (When I looked earlier, the actions drop down did not have a delete option, I swear! I'm a techie, not a luddite...but now it's there so....maybe I'm just crazy) ;-)

                                                     

                                                    Regarding the 5% - we'll see when it posts. The receipt I have that homeaway sent me clearly shows it's all (the whole 12%) been deducted, which is what prompted my question.

                                                     

                                                    Still confused on your comment: "Second, that 3% CC fee on the taxes that is being collected?  At least 2.5% of that is going to VISA/Mastercard and the Visa gateway and Yapstone.  Maybe at most 0.5% is staying with HA (you can look up the VISA wholesale rates on cards to see this).  So HA has collected at about 2.5% less of the taxes than they have to remit.  Let them keep the puny interest I collect, I'm not out that additional money when it comes time to pay the taxes, Homeaway is."


                                                    If I, the owner, am paying the CC fee calculated on the whole amount, and that fee is remitted to Visa/MC/gateway/yapstone, then how is HA out that money? I understand I've always paid it, I'm just wondering about your point that HA is out that money. Here's what I assume? Show me my errors:


                                                    1000 rental

                                                    100 Cleaning

                                                    132 Taxes

                                                     

                                                    CC fee collected on whole amount, right? So, if 3%, that would be $36.75. I pay that, not HA (they deduct that from the total collected - $1232 - and my payout would be $1195.25 (before). Now it's less the tax collected to remit amount. In my case, it's 7% they should be remitting ($77). That's fine. So, theoretically, my payout should be $1232-$36.75-$77 = $1118.25. But where in that calculation does HA lose 2.5% of the *taxes* they remit? I pay the CC fee and they pass it along to Visa/gateway/Yapstone. They should still have the $77 in full?

                                                      • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                                        feibus CommunityAmbassador

                                                        Agreed, there are several bugs they're hunting down about the communications and system reports concerning payments and these taxes.  The answer I wrote comes from the experience of actual bookings (15 so far this year) completed and what money showed up and what did not.  The first couple of deposits were a hassle to figure it out, now that I have it in my head how to do it, it's just a bunch of extra steps, but I can get there and confirm the amounts.

                                                         

                                                        Edited now that I see the full message:

                                                         

                                                        For your numbers, it looks like 6% state tax + 6% county tax.

                                                         

                                                        Yes, you end up paying the full $36.96 in CC fees (3% in USA).  Same as before they collected state taxes.  Most of that goes to Yapstone and Visa, with a little left over for HA.  Let's say 2.5% of the 3% goes to Yapstone/Visa, just to make the numbers simple.  That's $6.16 to HA, the rest to Visa for the full transaction (ballpark, I don't know the actuals, but it seems close).

                                                         

                                                        If you collect it all in one payment, your payment will be 1166 less 36.96 and you remit the $66 to the county at the right time.  Nothing changed there.

                                                         

                                                        HA also collected $66 state tax but Yapstone/Visa kept about 1.65 of that (appx 2.5%) for the credit card fee.  So they have $64.35 in their tax collected account.  But Florida wants the full $66, and that's what they'll remit to FL DoR when the time comes.  Where does that $1.65 come from when it comes time to remit?  Homeaway.  When we paid the taxes, it came from our bank account.  Now it comes out of HA's profits.

                                                         

                                                        If you do two payments, one for 25% and the rest in the second payment: first payment collected is 1100 x .25 = $275 + $132 tax = $407.  Of that, you'll get $275 + $66 (county taxes) - $12.21 in CC fees = $328.79 payout.


                                                        Whew.

                                          • Re: Is Yapstone now charging my CC to pay for the taxes in FL.
                                            khs Contributor

                                            Yes, I agree. When I do my own bookings I pass on the cc processing fee to my guests. Now Yapstone makes the charges but passes it on to me the owner. Not at all pleased with this.

                                             

                                            But don't get me started about Yapstone. They have withheld almost $200 in funds from me for a month and refuse to attempt any resolution to correct their mistake. Basically they are stealing money from owners and refuse to address it. Even after twice being told it my case was "elevated," still nothing!

                                             

                                            In my mind they know they are wrong and in error . If they admit to this how will they look. I already have no confidence or trust in them. So instead they ignore my case hoping it will just go away.