A class action lawsuit has been filed against Sandals Resorts International, claiming that the company has engaged in deceptive tax collection practices for decades.

The suit alleges that all-inclusive Sandals properties throughout the Caribbean have charged guests fees that claim to be local government taxes but are instead retained by Sandals in part or in full "for their own use, benefit and profit."

Sandals said it "intends to vigorously defend these claims and trusts the judicial process. ... Our customers are our top priority, and under no circumstances would we exploit their faith in us. Our valued guests have never -- and will never -- be unlawfully charged for taxes, and allegations to the contrary are simply false. Not only do we conduct our business with transparency, we meet all our tax obligations in each of the islands where we call home. We take great pride in being the gold standard in the islands where we operate and have spent close to four decades providing guests with the most comprehensive vacation experience bar none. This is an attempt by a law firm to use the media to generate publicity based on an erroneous claim."

Miami law firm Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, which filed the suit in the Southern District of Florida earlier this week, said in the filing that "deceptive charges are used to generate extra profit at the expense of [guests], who are deceived into believing the fees are legitimate charges directly related to Sandals' taxes to the government." 

The lawsuit highlights, in particular, a 12% accommodation tax that is currently collected at Sandals' Beaches Turks & Caicos resort, with the majority of that fee allegedly being retained by Sandals as part of an agreement with the Turks & Caicos government.

Additionally, the filing accuses Beaches Turks & Caicos of collecting the accommodation tax on guests under 12 years of age, which is said to be illegal under Turks & Caicos law. 

Also cited in the filing is a 12.5% sales tax that was collected by the Sandals Grande Antigua, Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados resorts prior to 2017 and allegedly retained in part by Sandals. 

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