Resort tax collections top $8M, set record

Resort tax collections for fiscal year 2011-12 set a record of $8.1 million, surpassing the previous record of $7.01 million set in 2010-11.

The resort tax, often called the bed tax, is the 5 percent collected by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s office on accommodation rentals of six months or less. It’s official name is the Manatee County Tourist Development Tax. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.

Sue Sinquefield, head of the office that oversees collection of the resort tax, said the team never planned to set a record.

“We’re just doing our jobs,” she said.

Better collection methods, increasing tourism, a good tip line for reporting violators, and the number of people who have come forward to register and pay tax on accommodations all contributed to the increase, she said.

To rent out an accommodation, an owner or rental agent must be registered with the Florida Department of Business Regulation and then receive a license from the county tax collector, Sinquefield said.

Her office also has field agents who conduct inspections of accommodations in areas known for having high numbers of rental properties.

If agents don’t find the proper documents at rentals, the owners or agents may be liable for resort taxes that should have been paid during the time the owner/agent had no license, but was renting the property anyway, Sinquefield said.

And the 2012-13 resort tax collections already have begun to come in ahead of last year’s record pace.

Resort tax collections for the first month of the fiscal year, October 2012, were $426,289, while collections in October 2011 were $397,000, according to the MCTC website. The tax is collected one month in arrears.

Sinquefield said increases in resort tax collections appear to mesh with increased tourism reports for Manatee County.

The year-to-year resort tax increased 15.5 percent from 2010-11 to 2011-12. Area tourism in 2011 was up 6.7 percent, according to the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the BACVB reports tourism is up about 6.5 percent for 2012.

Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key accommodations contribute about 62 percent of the annual resort taxes collected, according to information on the MCTC website. That equates to about $5 million generated for the 2011-12 resort tax fund by the barrier islands.

The resort tax is used to fund the BACVB, the Bradenton Convention Center, the county’s share of beach renourishment projects, the Crosley Mansion, McKechnie Field where the Pittsburgh Pirates hold spring training and several other county ventures.

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