State legislators are set to consider a proposed law that would raise taxes on Texans who purchase travel services through websites such as Expedia or Hotwire.
House Bill 2889 by State Reps. Morgan Meyer (R–Dallas) and Dustin Burrows (R–Lubbock) would broaden the so-called “hotel occupancy” tax to hit a number of services not currently taxed. Specifically, the bill would target cleaning and telecommunications. The bill is slated on the Texas House of Representatives calendar for Tuesday, though state lawmakers may not get to it until later in the week.
The measure is supported by the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association, likely motivated by a desire to restrict competition in their industry. The THLA also currently employs lobbyist Mike Toomey, who Texans will remember was a primary architect of Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID policies.
Americans for Tax Reform, a national taxpayer advocacy group, explains further:
Texas legislators are advancing a tax hike this session, including the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee.
The tax hike, House Bill 2889, would drive up costs when you go online or call a travel agent to book accommodations. It would apply the hotel tax to the small service fees agents charge, which adds new tax and compliance burdens.
It only gets more confounding when you consider the state, along with local governments, will get around $17 billion from the Biden bailout.
This picks on a hospitality industry that has been absolutely crushed by the pandemic. Job loss in hospitality in Texas has been worse than any other industry, employment was down 23% from February 2020 to January 2021 (Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M).
Concerned Texans may contact Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s office and their state senator.