Agent Issues Maryland lawmakers could override veto of tax on OTAs and travel agents By Jamie Biesiada / January 15, 2016 Share 1 -- The Maryland General Assembly may vote next week to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill that would apply a 6% sales tax to service fees or markups that an “accommodations intermediary” charges when booking hotel rooms in the state. According to ASTA, the bill could be brought up for a vote on Jan. 20. ASTA opposes the bill, which could mean taxes on service fees that travel agents charge on hotel bookings. The society, along with the Travel Technology Association and major travel agency groups, have lobbied against the bill, while hotels lobbied in its favor.In the bill, an “accommodations intermediary” is defined as “a person, other than an accommodations provider, who facilitates the sale or use of an accommodation and charges a buyer the taxable price for the accommodation."The governor vetoed the bill in May because the issue is currently being litigated in Maryland Tax Court in the case of Travelocity v. the Comptroller of Maryland, but before the veto, it passed handily in the state senate (32-15) and assembly (84-56). A three-fifths vote in favor of overriding the veto would be necessary in both houses.“Despite the rhetoric, this bill clearly gives taxing authorities the ability to go after travel agents of all shapes and sizes, online or offline — including the 226 Maryland agencies that employ more than 1,100 people,” ASTA CEO Zane Kerby said in a statement. “This would come at a time when our members are competing not only with each other and the online travel companies, but also against huge hotel chains aggressively pushing consumers to book direct with the hotel and not with their trusted travel agent.”Kerby said the bill would make Maryland “less competitive."“Increasing the cost of doing business for these travel agents — many of them small business owners — by exposing them to new taxes and layers of red tape creates a disincentive for agents to send travelers to Maryland, and a cost incentive to send them elsewhere,” he said.