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Don’t forget resort tax this season

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

With the coming of the winter tourist season, the Manatee County Tax Collector’s resort tax collection unit has issued a notice reminding property owners renting a property for six months or less of its tax obligations.

The 5 percent resort tax — commonly called the bed tax — applies throughout Manatee County, the notice said.

Additionally, the collections unit has established a Rental Tax-Evaders Hotline that people can call anonymously and report suspected bed tax violations. Anonymous tips also may be made online at www.taxcollector.com, the notice said.

Property owners who collect and remit the resort tax must be registered with the tax collectors office. Registration also can be completed online at www.taxcollector.com.

Resort tax collection methods have improved significantly the past year, said Sue Sinquefield, head of the collections unit, and a number of rental property owners who had not been paying the tax were identified and have paid past due amounts.

For fiscal year 2010-11, the unit collected more than $7 million in resort taxes, a record amount. The total collected was about $650,000 more than the amount received during 2009-10, Sinquefield said.

Approximately 62 percent of all resort tax collections derive from Anna Maria Island and north Longboat Key, according to Sinquefield’s research, including a large portion of the past-due collections received during 2010-11.

Sinquefield credited much of the increase to new investigative methods to find tax avoiders, the addition of more resort tax investigators, better cooperation with the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s Office, the hotline, and public education and awareness.

Property owners who are caught avoiding payment must also pay a penalty, in addition to any past due amounts, Sinquefield noted.

The resort tax hotline is 941-741-4809. Resort tax questions can also be submitted by e-mail to resorttax@taxcollector.com.

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