By ABBEY KUNKLE
Special to the PRESS
The SPI Hotel Occupancy Tax, or HOT as it is often referred to, is collected throughout the year from short-term rentals at 14.5 percent. This tax not only applies to hotels, motels, and rental agencies, but also to any property that is being advertised for rent. With 6 percent going to the state, 2 percentfor beach maintenance, 8 percent to the Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), and .5 percent for beach nourishment to address coastal erosion, non-remittance of the tax is in violation of both state and local laws. The primary use of revenue collected from the HOT is the portion that is allotted for the CVB, which is then used solely for promotion of the Island to return the investment back to those in the lodging industry.
Last December, Councilman Dennis Stahl brought up the topic of cities grappling with the challenge of collecting these taxes. In the past, a company called Muni-Services was hired to address the issue of non-compliance in regards to payment of the HOT, but in the past two years, they have only recovered taxes on 40 properties. Based on research of rental sites, many more properties are not in compliance. At the City Council meeting on December 17th, the council directed City Manager Bill DiLibero to explore options for solutions to collect.
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