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Some cabin owners in Minnesota may see tax hike

Cook County's Assessor mailed out a survey to owners who rent out their properties.

EAGAN, Minn. —
Craig Opel in Eagan has two beautiful properties along Lake Superior in Cook County's Grand Marais.

"People love to come up there and stay there," said Opel. "We've got people that have been staying in our places for over 30 years."

Recently he received a survey from Cook County's Assessor Bob Thompson.

"Wanting to know how many days we rent for short term," said Opel.

"To try and determine which of those two uses is the primary use," said Thompson.

He says he's trying to classify rental properties in the area as commercial.

This comes after the Department of Revenue sent out a memo last spring to help assessor's classify properties with the ongoing influx of lodging services.

Classifying a rental property as commercial would impose a commercial tax which hotels already pay. That change could impact the owners of hundreds of cabins in Cook County.

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"All intended to level the playing field between hotels and vacation rentals," said Thompson.

Craig already pays nearly $4,000 dollars in taxes on his two properties. He's now concerned about the economic impact to him and the tourism industry in Cook County.

"Anytime we have things that start dipping in our cost structures we can't control are concerning," said Opel.

The Cook County Assessor will be the one to decide if the change happens in that county. 

Lawmakers are also expected to take up the issue of rental properties during the legislative session in 2020.