The House Revenue Committee, chaired by Representative Phil Barnhart (D-Eugene), held a hearing Thursday on an important lodging tax bill for cities and counties. The League testified in support of HB 2064 with a dash-1 amendment that revises state preemptions on the use of local lodging tax revenues in order to increase flexibility for addressing tourist-related costs. The flexibility would allow restricted revenues to be used for maintenance of tourist-related facilities as well as the costs of tourism activities, tourist events and festivals, sporting events,
tourist attractions, and beautification projects that enhance tourist attractions, tourism facilities and tourist events.
In addition, the amendment would revise the definition for transient lodging intermediary to ensure all business model types that facilitate the retail sale of rooms or homes are required
to collect lodging taxes as well as file a tax return and pay the taxes. Presently, some entities are not paying the tax or require an agreement with a local government to pay the tax. Another amendment may be necessary to clarify that no double taxation is intended by the revisions. The intent is that either the transient lodging provider is responsible for the tax, or if an intermediary is used by the provider, that intermediary will be responsible for paying the tax.
The committee’s discussion of the amendment was lengthy and very lively as there is great interest this session in providing local governments more flexibility as long as the changes are narrowly tailored to maintain a nexus to tourism. Oregon’s local lodging tax revenues have more than doubled since the 2003 preemptions went into effect, but increased tourism costs are also hamstringing the budgets of some cities and counties. Public safety costs for tourist events and activities are a particular need that legislators seem receptive to addressing this session.
The League will continue to work with the committee to advance the bill.
Contact: Wendy Johnson, Intergovernmental Relations Associate – firstname.lastname@example.org