March 2013 marked the 23rd month of the past 24 that resort tax collections by the Manatee County Tax Collector’s Office exceeded the same month’s collections the previous year.
The resort tax is the 5 percent paid to Manatee County by property owners on rentals of six months or less.
Sue Sinquefield of the resort tax collections division reported $1.492 million was collected in March 2013, a 12.06 percent climb from the $1.344 million in March 2012. The tax is paid one month in arrears.
March collections also brought the year-to-date resort tax collected to $5.040 million, an 11 percent hike from the $4.537 million collected during the first six months of the 2011-12 fiscal year.
A record for resort tax collections of $8.1 million was set in 2011-12 fiscal year. With six months remaining for collections in the 2012-13 fiscal year, Sinquefield said it’s possible to surpass the record.
However, she emphasized division agents “aren’t trying to set records, just see that everyone pays what have they have to pay.”
“They seem to be doing a good job,” Sinquefield added. “It’s been a wonderful season” for the resort tax division.
Sinquefield did not identify any specific municipality but she said some taxes have come from barrier island property owners who were previously unregistered.
Once discovered for not paying the resort tax, a property owner not only must obtain the required licenses and may have to pay back resort and sales taxes.
Agents from the resort tax collections office occasionally conduct sweeps of accommodation rentals, looking for properties and owners that are not complying with the law.
For the barrier islands, Holmes Beach leads the way in bed tax collections with $391,239, followed by Longboat Key with $244,744, Anna Maria at $181,562 and Bradenton Beach with $147,611.
In March 2013, Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key together collected $965,156 in resort taxes, 64.7 percent of the total collected. The average of resort tax collections from the two barrier islands the past 24 months is approximately 62 percent of the total collected.
The 12.6 percent increase in March collections likely means tourism to the Bradenton area is up around 6.3 percent from the March 2012. For the past 24 months, tourism has increased at a pace about half of the resort tax percentage increase.
The resort tax is used to fund the county’s share of beach renourishment projects, the Bradenton Area Convention Center and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, McKechnie Field, the Crosley Estate and other attractions, as well as advertising and promoting the area.