Saratoga County Races Its Way to Higher Taxes

Saratoga County and Saratoga Springs Local Officials Push to Raise Taxes on Travel and Tourism.

Jul 03, 2012, 15:14 ET from Interactive Travel Services Association

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y., July 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Officials in Saratoga County, NY are entering the peak 2012 tourist season with an eye to raise taxes on travelers and tourists looking to book hotel rooms through online and traditional travel agents.

The basis of the new tax is an attempt to apply the county lodging tax to the service fees of traditional and online travel agents and intermediaries on Saratoga hotel room reservations resulting in higher prices for consumers. Higher tax proponents such as Malta Town Supervisor Paul Sausville and County Treasurer Sam Pitcheralle are basing their support for the new tax on the incorrect assumption that online travel companies (OTCs) are buying up hotel rooms "wholesale," marking them up, selling them to customers for a much higher rate and not remitting the full amount of tax dollars owed to the county. This assumption has been discredited dozens of times in multiple forums, including federal and state litigation brought over this very point. 

In addition, dozens of state legislatures across the nation—most recently those in Florida, Virginia, Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Oregon, Missouri, and Massachusetts—have examined this issue and overwhelmingly concluded that application of hotel occupancy tax to a travel facilitator makes the affected area less competitive for travel and tourism, and have rejected these proposals.

"Saratoga County hotel operators—including independent properties—voluntarily enter into contracts with OTCs to promote their hotels to millions of potential tourists.  Some members of the county board have been misled into thinking that taxing these transactions is good public policy, when in fact, it discourages tourism to the areas that have attempted it," said Joseph Rubin, president of the Interactive Travel Services Association. 

Rubin also said that some county leaders are fixated on the online travel companies his organization represents, failing to recognize that local travel agencies that facilitate tourism in the region will also be subject to the new tax scheme.  "Local businesses that depend on tourism should be asking their elected county officials why they are pursuing this hair-brained idea," said Rubin.

About the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA)

The Interactive Travel Services Association is the association for online travel companies and global distribution systems.  ITSA is the voice of the industry on public policy matters, and on educating policy makers, opinion leaders and the traveling public about the industry and matters of importance that will affect travel and tourism in general.

ITSA's members include:  Amadeus, Orbitz Worldwide, Expedia, Priceline, Sabre Holdings, Travelport and

SOURCE Interactive Travel Services Association