JURY FINDS FOR CITIES AGAINST ONLINE HOTEL BOOKERS
A federal jury has ruled in favor of San Antonio and 172 other Texas cities in their class action lawsuit against online hotel booking companies including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Priceline.com, and others. The jury awarded $20.6 million to the cities based on their argument that the online companies failed to remit city hotel occupancy tax on the “markup” difference between the amount the companies paid for the rooms and the price at which they sold the rooms to consumers. Punitive damages were not awarded.
An appeal by the companies is likely. The companies argue that they don’t “control” hotel rooms, which is required before the local hotel occupancy tax is due.