Carbon County clarifies collection of hotel taxes
An update to the hotel occupancy tax Pennsylvania collects on all hotel rooms and other accommodations will take will provide better clarification for who is responsible to collect this tax, Carbon County officials said.
On Thursday, county Treasurer Ron Sheehan updated the county commissioners about Act 109 of 2018, which takes effect Jan. 22.
In 2007, Pennsylvania implemented a hotel tax that is collected on homes, hotel and motel rooms and bed-and-breakfasts booked in the commonwealth.
That tax is collected for use of tourism promotion within the counties.
In Carbon County, the money is collected and remitted to Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau, which then gives the county 20 percent of the first $500,000 collected through the 3 percent hotel tax, as well as 4 percent for administering/collecting the tax.
The 20 percent then is disbursed through a tourism promotion program overseen by the county chamber.
Sheehan said the changes will provide additional clarifications to some previous loopholes, including the collection of hotel taxes from third-party vendors such as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and real estate management companies, which had been not submitting these taxes.
It was also better defined that booking agents, which are anyone who collects payment for hotel accommodations, are now responsible for reporting and remitting the tax, meaning that sites like Airbnb and VRBO are required to follow the same rules as hotels when booking accommodations, he said.
“This is a very big loophole that will be filled in Carbon County because we have not received one single penny from any third-party platform such as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway or other internet platforms,” Sheehan said.
The state Department of Revenue has included guidelines on its website to help booking agents navigate the process of registering and remitting the tax.
It also has a listing of places that are registered with the department so the county can now double-check to see if there is anyone operating within Carbon County that officials aren’t aware of.
In the next month, Sheehan will be sending two letters, one to existing establishments that are registered with the county to collect the hotel tax to make them aware of the changes, and a second letter to Realtors and Realtor associations letting them know what their responsibilities are if they are acting as a home manager.
For more information on the changes of the hotel occupancy tax, people can visit the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue’s website at https://bit.ly/2Teqn5u.