The Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on General Government held an informational hearing on state and local transient lodging tax (TLT) on April 18. The Department of Revenue (DOR), Association of Oregon Counties (AOC), and League of Oregon Cities presented on their respective transient lodging taxes, collection, and policy needs to gain better compliance rates.

DOR Government Relations Manager Mark Gharst noted in his presentation that monitoring compliance has been challenging, as the Department has a single auditor to monitor collection. As DOR budget discussions advance, the Department will be seeking funding for an additional auditor and data scraping software to ensure better compliance. The goal for DOR in expanding compliance tools would be to gain city and county participation in a statewide system, and create a payment model for participation in the program.

AOC Legislative Affairs Manager Susan Morgan presented on county TLTs. From a recent member survey, AOC identified 16 counties that have a transient lodging tax. In her presentation, Morgan shared that most counties feel their compliance rate is high and have the tools to assist in compliance. Many counties are working on robust education plans for potential payers. The main question that was posed for the presentation was if counties would participate in a statewide program. Morgan commented on the county survey results, “in running TLT systems, counties routinely work with cities in their boundaries, but not generally with the Department of Revenue. They’re looking forward to receiving the Department of Revenue data, and that can be a tool they use in increasing compliance, but there’s no consensus on counties joining a statewide system.” She further commented on the benefits and concerns of a statewide system from a county perspective explaining that some counties felt the tool would help them advance in ensuring compliance and create an ease for users in multiple jurisdictions. Other counties were concerned about unknown costs associated with joining a statewide system, lack of transparency, and confidence in the information that would be provided by DOR.

To view full results from the AOC survey, click here.

To view revenues collected by county, click here.

Committee Co-Chair, Senator Rob Wagner closed the meeting stressing the importance of having this presentation in the General Government Subcommittee from an auditing and compliance perspective. In his comments, Wagner suggested the Legislature should be involved in ensuring compliance because of the revenue generating potential the TLT has. Further discussions on revenue expenditures related to TLT will occur next week.

Contributed by: Megan Chuinard | Public Affairs Associate