Airbnb is a solution to economic inequality, exec says

Airbnb is democratizing capitalism and helping tackle economic inequality, its head of global policy and public affairs said Wednesday.

The home-sharing service has taken its case to the Democratic National Convention, where it is trying to convince Washington the sharing economy is good for the U.S. economy.

The push comes on the heels of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call for a regulatory probe into whether short-term rental websites like Airbnb are taking housing away from long-term renters and boosting prices. Hillary Clinton also called out the sharing economy as a potential factor in dampened wage growth last year.

"In a time period where economic inequality is a central issue … we are a platform that is providing a solution — not the solution, but certainly a solution to economic inequality and helping millions of millions of people make ends meet on a regular basis," Chris Lehane told CNBC's "Closing Bell."

Airbnb
Dado Ruvic | Reuters
Airbnb

The hosts make 97 cents on the dollar and the vast majority are middle class, he said. The average middle-class person makes about $7,500 a year renting out space around 46 or 47 times.

With that "significant economic force" comes a responsibility to pay taxes, Lehane said.

"We want to pay taxes," he said.

In fact, Airbnb is already paying taxes in over 200 jurisdictions globally and recently completed tax deals with Los Angeles and Chicago, he pointed out.

"From the same way you went from the horse and buggy to the car, you needed a new law for a new thing," he said. "In our view, we need new laws for this new thing."

He called the response at the DNC "tremendous."

— CNBC's Kate Rogers and Reuters contributed to this report.