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The latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news.

Bill Would Require Online Travel Companies To Pay Full Bed Tax

Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, says during testimony Monday that his bill would clarify the intent of past legislation to include online travel companies in the state’s bed tax.
Freddy Monares
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Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, says during testimony Monday that his bill would clarify the intent of past legislation to include online travel companies in the state’s bed tax. ";

A bill in the Montana Senate would reverse a 2015 Montana Supreme Court decision that allowed online travel companies, like Expedia and hotels.com, to avoid a part of the state’s bed tax.Senate Bill 373 would make it so that online travel companies would have to pay a 7 percent tax, which is comprised of a sales tax and a lodging facility use tax. In 2015, the high court ruled that the online services only had to pay the three percent sales tax since the companies were not owners or operators.

Democratic Sen. Dick Barrett is the sponsor of the bill.

"That language was inconsistent with the real policy intent of the Legislature,” Barrett said.

President of the Travel Technology Association Steve Shur opposes the bill.

"These taxes also provide a disincentive for travel agents to steer travelers to Montana,” Shur said.

This was the Senate Taxation Committee’s first hearing of testimony on the bill.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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