Chafee eyes tax on travel sites

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Taxes are always more popular when they’re paid by someone else, such as, say, television personality William Shatner. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.


Chafee eyes tax on travel sites

GOV. LINCOLN D. CHAFEE's proposed budget would add a tax to online hotel purchases through websites considered 'hotel resellers.'

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 3/24/14

Taxes are always more popular when they’re paid by someone else, such as, say, television personality William Shatner.

Maybe that’s why R.I. Director of Administration Richard Licht, when asked by reporters to identify whose taxes would rise under new rules for travel websites proposed in Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee’s 2015 budget, jokingly offered the veteran actor, who for years has appeared in commercials for travel website

Of course Shatner personally wouldn’t be paying the tax, but Licht’s point, aside from identifying Priceline, was that the state isn’t targeting local Rhode Island hotels or travelers, but rather online giants capable of employing a stage and screen icon.

Shatner’s employers, however, argue that taxing them will trickle down to Rhode Island hotel customers, who will be forced to pay more for their rooms here than in other states, even if they don’t know why.

“Ultimately Rhode Island hotels will be more expensive and less competitive with those from neighboring states,” said Steve Shur, president of the Travel Technology Association, a national industry group for travel websites. “That is very important, because leisure travelers are very sensitive to even small differences in price.”

Compared with the size of both the Rhode Island tourism and online travel industries, the amount of money involved in the proposed tax changes is small. The proposed budget estimates $1.4 million in new combined revenue from taxing “hotel resellers” as they call the websites, and extending the hotel-occupancy tax to bed and breakfasts. (State tax officials could not provide a breakdown of how much revenue was expected from those two different sources.)

But the proposal represents the latest engagement between e-commerce businesses and local governments over taxation and regulation. Others include pushes for an online sales tax and collections on virtual marketplaces such as ride shares and room shares.

Next Page
PBN Hosted

Join PBN for the best networking event and party of the winter - January 15, 2015 - the Book of Lists Party at the Providence Public Library. Reserve your spot by December 31st and get a holiday gift from PBN!
  • Best Places to Work
    Enrollment is now open for the 7th annual Best Places to Work program. Winners w ...
  • Manufacturing Awards
    Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual Manufacturing Awards. Dea ...
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
    Latest News