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Florida Supreme Court Decision Welcome News for State's Tourism Industry

Published on 6/11/15


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 11, 2015) - Today, the Florida Supreme Court released its opinion in the case of Alachua County, et al v. Expedia, Inc., et al in opposition of placing a tax on consumer service fees charged by online travel companies. Florida's highest court has ruled that the current law places bed taxes on hotel rooms - not consumers.

"Travel Tech applauds today's confirmation by the Florida Supreme Court that Florida hotel tax laws do not apply to online travel agencies (OTAs) and the amount they charge for their online services," said Steve Shur, president of Travel Tech: The Travel Technology Association. "As the Florida Supreme Court, and dozens of U.S. courts before it have recognized, online travel companies are not hotels, and should not be paying occupancy taxes. OTAs use innovative platforms and technologies to help drive travelers to the state, facilitating nearly five million room night bookings at Florida hotels in 2013. Travel Tech members also spend millions each year marketing Florida destinations to tourists from around the world. When a consumer is planning that yearly family vacation to the Keys, or that last minute weekend in Miami, it's OTAs they turn to in order to search, compare, and book the best travel options. We look forward to working with local officials and stakeholders to find innovative ways that our members can help draw more visitors to Florida communities."
Today's Florida Supreme Court ruling upholds previous rulings by Florida circuit and appellate, as well as dozens of other U.S. courts, against placing bed taxes on consumer service fees.

What they are saying:

David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce:
"The Florida Chamber of Commerce commends the court for rejecting a new tax on visitors to our state. While Florida is on the path toward another record breaking tourism year, a friendly tourism economy will help our state evolve, and continue to grow our domestic and international tourism industry. The Florida Chamber supports a strong tourism economy and business environment - neither of which include double taxation."

Rep. Jason Brodeur (District 28):
"The Florida Supreme Court's ruling today upholds current law in Florida providing that bed taxes apply to the actual amount the hotel receives for a  consumer to sleep in the room, not the cost the consumer pays to make arrangements to sleep in that room. This was the right decision, and one that will help protect our state's travel industry and the thousands of businesses and employers who depend on it."

Bill Herrle, Florida Executive Director of the National Federation of Independent Business:
"Today's verdict against creating a new tax on travelers is a victory for the thousands of Florida small businesses and employers that depend on our state's tourism industry. We can't raise taxes on tourists considering a trip to Florida and expect it not to make an impact."

Senator Joseph Abruzzo (District 25):
"Today's decision reflects the current Florida law that service fees are not subject to tax and helps protect the vitality of our state's tourism industry, which is one of our state's largest employers."

Bobbie Singh-Allen, Executive Director of the Independent Lodging Industry Association:
"On behalf of the Independent Lodging Industry Association and its small hotel members, I issue high praise to the Florida Supreme Court for protecting Florida's hardworking hoteliers and small business owners from a new consumer tax that would threaten their livelihood."

Rep. John Tobia (District 53):
"The Florida Supreme Court made the right decision today in rejecting an appeal to place an additional tax on the online service fees paid by tourists visiting our state. A new consumer tax burden risks making travelers look elsewhere when booking their vacation or business plans."

Zane Kerby, President and CEO, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA):
"Travel agency business models have changed dramatically in the past few decades - they are relying less on commissions from suppliers, such as hotels and airlines, and more on professional fees charged to clients for the unique services they provide to consumers. ASTA applauds today's verdict to reject new taxes on this income, which recognizes the critical role that travel agents play in today's travel ecosystem, and this ruling will support their efforts to bring even more visitors to the State of Florida."

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: 
 "Today's conclusion by the Florida Supreme Court firmly upholds state bed tax law. If you're not a hotel, you shouldn't have to pay hotel bed taxes. We can't create new taxes on consumers if we want to promote businesses and jobs."

Julio Fuentes, President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:
"As President of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, I represent Hispanic business owners in the tourism industry across the state and support the courts decision to protect these business owners and their patrons. Raising taxes on tourism would mean fewer tourists, and fewer tourists means fewer good jobs in Florida."


Liz Shawen, PR Counsel
(850) 224-0174



Headquartered in Sacramento, CLIA is a member lodging and hospitality industry association, providing legislative, educational, marketing, and profit-oriented programs for independent lodging owners and operators.


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