Both the Maryland state senate (30-16) and assembly (89-52) voted Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan's veto on a bill that will apply a 6% sales tax to service fees or markups that an “accommodations intermediary” charges when booking hotel rooms in the state.

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 override has drawn the ire of ASTA and the Travel Technology Association (TTA), travel industry groups that lobbied against the bill. 

“We can’t win every fight, but we are heartened by the response of our Maryland members to our multiple calls to action over the past year." — ASTA CEO Zane Kerby

“Today’s party-line vote is a clear signal to Maryland taxpayers who demanded a new direction during the last election that many in Annapolis didn’t get the message. With the override of S.B. 190, the legislature once again caved to Marriott’s threat to move out of state and voted to increase taxes on over 200 community travel agencies and countless travel service providers,” said Philip Minardi, vice president of communications and public affairs for the TTA, a trade group representing online travel agencies and GDSs.

“Because of today’s vote, Maryland’s tourism economy will pay the price. Maryland’s taxpayers who travel in-state will pay for these taxes in the form of higher room rates.”

Minardi also argued that the override will make Maryland less competitive with nearby states in travel and tourism.

Zane Kerby, president and CEO of ASTA, said that the travel agency group was “disappointed” by the override.

“We can’t win every fight, but we are heartened by the response of our Maryland members to our multiple calls to action over the past year — nearly 500 advocacy messages sent to legislators, as well as dozens of phone calls and in-person meetings,” Kerby said.

Hotels lobbied in favor of the bill. In a statement earlier this month, the American Hotel & Lodging Association pushed for the veto because the bill “closes a tax loophole and ensures online travel companies pay the state’s existing occupancy sales taxes.”

In a letter sent to senators and delegates in Maryland, the AH&LA said the bill “would not create a new tax, it simply ensures that all companies in the business of booking hotel rooms remit existing sales tax in the same way."

Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May because the issue is being litigated in Maryland Tax Court in the case of Travelocity v. the Comptroller of Maryland.

Marriott did not immediately return a call for comment. 

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