Americans for Tax Reform has sent more than 25,000 pieces of direct mail into three Tennessee legislative districts in response to a legislative proposal in Nashville that would make booking hotels in Tennessee through online travel agents and agencies more expensive. ATR is working to make sure the sponsors of this dubious piece of legislation, Representative Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Representative Art Swann (R-Blount County), and Senator Doug Overbey (R-Maryville), are all aware of the adverse impact this legislation will have on commerce and pocketbooks of Tennessee residents.
Tennessee tourism sustains nearly 180,000 jobs and generates more than $15 billion annually, making it one of the most important source of jobs the state. By raising taxes on companies who help families and tourists travel, these legislators are penalizing Tennessee taxpayers simply looking for the best deal possible.
According to the US Travel Association, tourism sustains nearly 3,000 jobs and generates more than $10.2 million in local tax revenues for Blount County, the county Rep. Swann represents. For Blount and Sevier counties, which Sen. Overbey represents, it’s 20,000 jobs and $2 billion in annual revenue. In fact, 50 percent of jobs in Sevier County are the result of tourism.
Rep. McDaniel represents parts of four counties in a rural part of the state, where tourism generates more than $50 million annually for those counties. Though McDaniel’s support for this tax hike comes as less of a surprise when one recalls his support for a state income tax and his vote for a Democrat Speaker of the Tennessee House.
“Governor Bill Haslam said it best when he noted that ‘In Tennessee, tourism equals jobs.’ To make it more expensive for Tennessee travelers to book hotels with the best deals possible seems contradictory to the mission of growing this important sector of the state economy,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “After the wave of Obamacare tax increases that hit Tennessee residents on January, the last thing Tennessee taxpayers need are more job-killing and income-reducing tax increases at the state level. Support for this ill-advised tax increase demonstrates either total ignorance of, or willful disregard for – either of which is unacceptable – just how important tourism is to the state economy. Americans for Tax Reform will continue to educate Tennessee taxpayers on this issue and urge legislators to reject this tax increase.”