POLITICS

Are big hotels using the tax code to hurt Priceline, Expedia

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Regulatory Robbery is one of my favorite beats -- when big business uses regulation and taxes to hurt competitors, pinch customers, squeeze suppliers, or otherwise profit at the expense of the politically less-connected.

A travel blog, View from the Wing, reports on a current case of possible Regulatory Robbery. In brief, New York State is considering a tax on hotel bookings through the likes of Orbitz and Expedia -- one that wouldn't apply to direct booking through the hotel. In more detail:

The New York Times reports that the current version of the pending New York State budget

includes a 20 percent increase in hotel occupancy taxes for travel intermediaries (meaning travel agencies, tour operators and online travel companies).

Get that? A tax on travel agencies and online booking services. That’s distinct nad separate from the hotel occupancy tax.

.... It’s actually the “major hotel chain revenue channel integrity act.” It’s the Marriotts, Starwoods, Hiltons, and Hyatts versus Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity. This tax applies to rooms booked via third party sites, not rooms booked with a hotel or chain directly.

It will be interesting to dig into the lobbying behind this.

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