The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in February in a long-running tax fight between counties and online-travel companies such as Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity,reports the News Service of Florida.
A Leon County circuit judge this year ruled against 17 counties that argued the companies had not properly paid tourist-development taxes — an issue that also has flared in recent years in the Legislature. Online-travel companies, which serve as middlemen between hotels and travelers, charge customers for room rentals and fees related to providing the service. The legal fight centers on whether tourist-development taxes apply to the total cost that customers pay or only to the portion that goes for room rentals. While counties say the total cost should be taxed, the industry says taxing its fees would amount to a services tax.
The appeals court last week scheduled oral arguments for Feb. 12.
The counties that have been involved in the lawsuit are Alachua, Charlotte, Escambia, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lee, Leon, Manatee, Nassau, Okaloosa, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, Seminole, Wakulla and Walton.