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March resort tax collections again break record

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

For 12 consecutive months, resort tax collections by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s office have set a new monthly record when compared with the same month the previous year. March 2012 collections were no exception.

Sue Sinquefield of the resort tax collections office reported March collections — funds taken in by the office in April — were $1.344,608, easily surpassing the previous monthly record set in February 2012 by nearly $277,000.

February collections were $1.067 million.

The resort tax — officially known as the Manatee County Tourist Development tax and commonly called the bed tax — is the 5 percent charged by Manatee County on accommodation rentals of six months or less.

Sinquefield said that while she’s not in the tourism industry, it would appear Anna Maria Island was “bursting at the seams” in March. She said better tax collection methods and an increase in renters combined to set record monthly and annual totals for resort tax collections.

Resort tax collections for March were up 19 percent from the $1.13 million collected by the office in March 2011.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said she wouldn’t be surprised if the number of visitors to the area was up 10 percent in March when the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau announces its survey figures.

For the fiscal year, resort taxes for the first six months are $4.516 million, a 21.6 percent climb and $816,000 more than the $3.7 million collected for the first six months of the previous year.

Sinquefield said collections appear on pace to surpass last year’s record collection of $7.1 million.

“The word has spread” among vacation rental property owners and agents to pay the tax, Sinquefield said.

Agents from the resort tax collections department have been known to conduct “sweeps” of known rental areas, including Anna Maria Island, looking for owners and agents attempting to avoid paying the 5 percent resort tax and the 6.5 percent county sales tax.

Sinquefield said a licensed vacation rental property owner must register with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, apply to the county tax collector’s office for a resort tax collection license and be approved. Those who do not comply may have to pay a fine, in addition to past-due taxes.

For March 2012, Anna Maria Island and the Manatee County portion of Longboat Key paid $860,541 in resort taxes, or 64 percent of the total collected.

Holmes Beach led the Island in resort taxes with $388,938, Bradenton Beach had $136,164 and Anna Maria provided $110,439.

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