Gov. Charlie Baker is backing off his support of a plan to require online lodging services such as Airbnb to pay the same taxes as hotels and motels just days after he said levying the tax was necessary.
The Republican told reporters on Monday he's not interested in raising taxes.
On Thursday, Baker said during his monthly "Ask the Governor" segment on WGBH-FM that he would sign a proposal to apply the hotel tax to services such as San Francisco-based Airbnb in part to create a level playing field with traditional hotels and motels.
But Baker said Monday he hadn't read the Massachusetts Senate's proposal when he made the comments. He said the proposal is too broad and would include "a whole variety of rentals that I would never dream of having Massachusetts tax."
He acknowledged that he's heard from hotel and motel owners who have complained that in certain markets they are in direct competition with Airbnb rentals for room nights.
"That's a legitimate issue and one that's worth discussing, but if anybody thinks I am walking back my no new taxes view of the world they're mistaken," he said Monday.
But the governor was unable to say how he could square his call for a level playing field with his desire not to increase taxes.
"I'm not interested in raising taxes. I am interested in leveling playing fields," Baker said. "At this point in time, on this particular issue, those two things seem to be in conflict."
The Senate bill would require online lodging services to begin collecting the state's 5.7 percent room occupancy tax along with any additional room taxes charged by local communities. The plan, if approved, could bring in an additional $20 million annually for the state.
The Senate plan also would expand the room occupancy tax to all transient accommodations, including currently exempted bed and breakfast homes, which have fewer than four rooms, and vacation rentals such as those popular on Cape Cod.
Airbnb has publicly supported efforts in other cities and states to expand the hotel and motel tax to include online lodging services. The company is collecting taxes in nearly 200 jurisdictions around the world and says dozens more want to do the same.
The Massachusetts House has yet to take up the issue.
The debate over whether Airbnb should collect hotel and motel taxes comes amid a larger debate over the sudden growth of the online lodging market.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has asked for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the impact of that market on local communities, especially those with already tight housing and rental markets.