Pinellas County Tax Collector Brings Home Record-Setting Bed Tax Dollars
PINELLAS COUNTY, FL – Talk about an epic year for Pinellas County tourism.
Pinellas County Tax Collector Charles W. Thomas raked in record-breaking tourist development tax collections for short-term hotel and rental stays for the 2019 fiscal year with 11 out of the last 12 months reaching all-time highs. Collections for the fiscal year totaled nearly $63.1 million, surpassing the $60 million threshold for the first time in Pinellas County history. Collections increased 5.63% over the previous fiscal year.
“These tax dollars are a win for our tourism economy in Pinellas County,” said Thomas. “Our tourist development tax team is dedicated to collecting every possible dollar owed, especially knowing these tax dollars are used to make our community an even better place to visit.”
The tourist development tax, also known as the bed tax, is a six percent tax on accommodations such as hotels and rental homes rented for six months or less. In Pinellas County, the Board of County Commissioners decides where these tax dollars go, from beach restoration projects to sports complexes, museums, aquariums, and more. One of the primary recipients is the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which promotes and advertises tourism for Pinellas County. Other recent projects partially funded by tourist development taxes include expansions at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Spring break was especially popular with tourists in 2019. In March, tourist development tax collections topped $9.5 million, marking the first time Pinellas collections surpassed $9 million in a single month. May, April, and January experienced the highest annual growth, with collections increasing 13.2%, 11.1% and 7.5% respectively compared to 2018.
The Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office became the first in the state to sign a tourist development tax collection agreement with Airbnb in 2015. In October 2018, TripAdvisor and Expedia, along with their subsidiaries – VRBO.com, FlipKey.com, VacationHomeRentals.com, VacationRentals.com, HouseTrip.com, HolidayLettings.co.uk, and Niumba.com — also jumped on board to collect and remit the tax. Without these collection agreements, property owners would be required to collect and remit the taxes on their own.
For more information about tourist development taxes, visit www.taxcollect.com/tourist/.
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ABOUT THE PINELLAS COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR’S OFFICE: The Pinellas County Tax Collector’s Office is a constitutionally elected office. Responsibilities include collecting and distributing state and local taxes and providing driver license and motor vehicle registration services to Pinellas County residents. For more information, visit taxcollect.com.