Online Travel Companies Win Significant Appellate Court Victory in Federal Fourth Circuit Occupancy Tax Case
Citing a long standing legal principle, the Court held that it "may not expand the [tax] statute's reach beyond what its plain language will bear." The Court further concluded that even if there were ambiguity in the Ordinance's language, tax law requires that the ambiguity be resolved strictly against the taxing authority.
"We are pleased that the Court of Appeals recognized what we have maintained all along: that the County's tax ordinance by its terms simply does not apply to online travel companies," said Art Sackler. "Online travel companies work hard to bring visitors and tourism dollars to cities and hotels around the country. Since they do not manage or operate hotels, motels or other lodging establishments, the online travel companies are not liable for occupancy taxes on the reservation services they provide to the local tourism industries."
The Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) is the association for the nation's online travel merchants and global distribution systems. Among its members or their subsidiaries are: CheapTickets (www.cheaptickets.com), Expedia.com (www.expedia.com), Hotels.com (www.hotels.com), Hotwire.com (www.hotwire.com), Orbitz (www.orbitz.com), priceline.com (www.priceline.com), and Travelocity (www.travelocity.com). A full membership list can be found on ITSA's website, .