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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Online travel providers lose chance to settle tax dispute in Legislature

Online travel providers lost their bid to settle a hotel tax dispute with Florida counties in the state Legislature.

Dozens of counties, including Pinellas and Hillsborough, are fighting companies including Expedia and Priceline over what they say are tens of million of dollars in unpaid local sales taxes.

Legislation backed by the industry would have let online travel companies continue to pay the tax on the lower wholesale cost of a room rather than the retail price they collect from consumers. A state law sanctioning the practice would spelled doom for the lawsuits.

The legislation had strong Republican support in both chambers. But late last week, the Senate was unable to pass a bill.

''It was a last-minute surprise,'' said David Downing, deputy director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. Read more here.

[Last modified: Monday, May 9, 2011 5:54pm]


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