American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) won a recent victory by fighting legislation to double tax travel agents. The anti-travel agent tax provision presented to Massachusetts legislation was defeated, and Governor Deval Patrick signed the Massachusetts corporate tax bill, minus the claus aimed at travel agents’ service fees for online booking of hotel rooms. An unprecedented double tax on travel agencies’ income stream, would have been unprecedented, and would threaten the livelihood of such agencies in Massachusetts, mostly small businesses.
In the end, the conference committee negotiators removed the offending provision from the final version of a bill that upset the industry members and potentially led the way to similar such legislation elsewhere. Members of the Massachusetts Chapter of ASTA took personal offense at Massachusetts Senate’s decision to adopt language taxing travel agents’ service fees when booking hotel rooms online in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts would have been the first state in the nation to pass this harmful tax and subject agents’ income stream to double taxation. This provision, if passed, would have driven tourism—a key economic engine—away from Massachusetts, said opponents.