State Rep. Rick Kriseman urges Attorney General Pam Bondi to force online travel companies to pay up
Armed with fresh documents that show online travel companies may have conspired to avoid paying about $440 million in taxes in Florida, St. Petersburg state Rep. Rick Kriseman is urging Attorney General Pam Bondi to force the travel giants to pay up.
The issue has been the focus of legal and political fights for years as counties and hotel companies have fought the online companies that sell unused hotel rooms to travelers looking for deals.
Counties argue that the companies should pay tourist development taxes on the total cost of the room charged to customers. The online travel companies say they should only pay taxes on the negotiated rate they pay the hotels — not on what they keep in profit.
Former Attorney General Bill McCollum sued Expedia and Orbitz in 2009 for unfair trade practices. But Bondi, who succeeded him in January, put the lawsuit on hold during the legislative session as lawmakers attempted to exempt the travel companies from paying the additional taxes, said Bondi spokeswoman Jennifer Krell Davis.
The bill died, but Bondi has neither revived the stalled lawsuit nor started her own investigation.