Proposals in Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Pennsylvania to expand state sales taxes to travel agency services failed to become law, saving agencies in those states over $62.6 million a year collectively in new taxes.
“In state after state, these proposals were stripped out of the budget,” according to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) in a press statement. Pennsylvania became the last state to do so, when on Oct. 30, Governor Tom Wolf signed a revenue package with no new taxes on agents.
In early 2017, governors in Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Pennsylvania proposed to expand their state sales taxes to travel agency services in one form or another, ranging from “travel arrangement and reservation services” in Maine and Pennsylvania to “travel agent services” in Illinois to “travel agent: prepackaged tours and other travel services” in Ohio.
ASTA launched grassroots campaigns in all four states, where efforts were led by ASTA Midwest Chapter President Jesse Guerra in Illinois (resulting in 91 advocacy messages to state legislators), by Maine Chapter President Andy Holmes, by then-Mid America Chapter President Claudia Darling in Ohio (resulting in 568 advocacy messages), and by multiple members and chapter representatives in Pennsylvania (resulting in 122 advocacy messages).
“The hard work of ASTA members in Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Pennsylvania ensures that agencies in those states won’t be slapped with almost $63 million collectively in new taxes every year,” said ASTA Executive Vice President, Advocacy, Eben Peck, in a press statement.
While the exact impact of these proposals was unclear due to vague wording, ASTA estimated that they would have collectively cost agencies in Illinois $22.2 million per year in new taxes, $994,000 in Maine, $23.2 million in Ohio, and $16.2 million in Pennsylvania.
“Expanding state sales taxes to travel agency services would have been devastating to our industry, and in defeating these proposals in four states – guided by headquarters – ASTA members have set the gold standard for grassroots engagement,” said Peck. “We applaud both their efforts and these state legislators’ decisions to drop these proposals from their budgets.”