Letter: Reject Texas House Bill 3579, Occupancy Tax Hike

May 6, 2019

To: Members of the Texas House of Representatives  

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: Reject House Bill 3579, Occupancy Tax Hike


Dear Representative, 

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Texas, I urge you to reject a new tax on travel agent services in HB 3579. This bill will impact all travel booking fees, driving up costs for Texans and out-of-state visitors when they use in-person, or online travel booking services.

Taxes are already collected on the price agents arrange with a hotel. Adding occupancy tax to travel agent service fees is a tax increase that will affect anyone who books a hotel stay through a third party, and make the state a more expensive place to visit.

Online Travel Agents, or OTA’s – like Expedia, Travelocity, and others – make it easier for people to book hotels or other accommodations online. They attract travelers to Texas by offering a variety of lodging options at competitive prices. As such, OTAs are great for restaurants, shops, and other local businesses, as they benefit from tourism.

Proponents may also tout the measure as a way to squeeze more revenue from tourists and other out-of-state visitors, but in reality, this proposed tax hike would harm tourism as well as Texas residents. When traveling throughout their home state, they would either be forced to pay more in taxes when booking through an agent, or they would have to book directly with the hotel, which is often more expensive.

While this tax hike is guaranteed to increase the state tax burden, often these kinds of taxes fall short of revenue projections. Grabbing for money, rather than reflecting on the state’s outlays may result in more pressure to increase other taxes down the road.

Rather than looking to separate Texans from their hard-earned money, and risking losses in tourism-related business, lawmakers can focus on spending more responsibly.

ATR opposes House Bill 3579, and urges you reject this legislation.



Grover G. Norquist


Americans for Tax Reform