The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

July 25, 2013

Ashtabula County cracking down on lodging tax collection

JEFFERSON — County officials have made some much needed updates to the county’s lodging tax regulations.

Ashtabula County Commissioner Peggy Carlo said the board met with the county’s lodging tax administrator and county prosecutor to update the resolution and the updates will be sent to all the appropriate people via e-mail.

“This will be a benefit to everyone,” she said. “I think everyone is excited about all these changes.”

The last update of the lodging tax regulations was adopted by the commissioners in August 2006.

Carl Feather, lodging tax administrator, began working on the updates in April by comparing the county’s regulations to those of other counties. The regulations are now in line with changes in state law and to support the growth of the local lodging industry.

By law, any single room establishment, where key entry is provided, is subject to paying a lodging tax. Property owners who rent their vacation homes, cottages and personal residences to transient guests are required to collect the tax from their guests.

The countywide tax is 5 percent, with 3 percent funding the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau and 2 percent funding the Convention Facilities Authority, Feather said.

The largest change to the regulations is the requirement for all operators to register their property with the county.

“We will register the property, not the name,” Feather said. “Every registration will be assigned a parcel number to better keep track of them when they sell.”

There is no cost to register the properties and the operators will be issued a registration certificate from the county, he said.

The new regulations also establish a due date for reporting. Operators will now be required to report on or before the last day of the month, for the prior month. Operators will be charged a $50 return check fee in the event a check is returned for insufficient funds.

The new regulations also require separate reporting for each property and requires reporting even if there is no activity or the property is used for family and friends who do not pay. Under the new regulations, operators will be penalized for not following the guidelines and could see a $100 fine per month on any tax payment that is delinquent for six months or more.

“The goal is to get a really good handle on the bed tax so everyone is aware of their obligation,” Carlo said. “At this point, we just want everyone to follow the rules and pay the lodging tax.”

Feather said there are currently 200 properties registered in the county’s database. In terms of units, the county collects most of its lodging tax from the hotels at the Route 45 and Interstate 90 interchange and from the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva State Park. In terms of properties, 80 percent of the properties collecting lodging taxes are in Geneva-on-the-Lake, he said.

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