ASTA Urges Agents to Oppose Massachusetts Tax Threat

Members of the Massachusetts Chapter of American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) moved to oppose the state Senate's decision to adopt language taxing travel agents' service fees when booking hotel rooms in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts would be the first state in the nation to pass this harmful tax and subject agents' income stream to double taxation, ASTA said.

"If agents are forced to pay this tax, they will do so at both the federal and state level," said Mike Spinelli Jr., president of ASTA's New England Chapter and business development manager for Vacation.com. "This will certainly affect travel agents, but it will also affect the state's tourism. Agents will be forced to steer their clients to other states to ensure their business remains profitable. It will be an unfortunate strike against agents, but they will find a way to recover long before the state finds a way to recover from decreased tourism."

ASTA members in the Commonwealth are urged to contact their state senator and representative by e-mail, using ASTA's e-mail alert system, asking them to oppose this hotel occupancy tax language. If passed, this bill would cause harm to a state which relies heavily on tourism dollars and to travel professionals who, like all other Americans, are working to keep their businesses healthy in a weakened economy.

"Travel agents are predominately small business owners, many of whom have struggled through September 11 and other severe business downturns related to the airlines' woes and to the economy," said Elisabeth-Ann Rossi of Rosenlund Travel in Worcester, MA, and member of the Massachusetts Chapter. "This additional tax burden will cause many small agencies to contemplate closing their doors. A healthy business climate is one where small business thrives."

For additional information on the Massachusetts tax bill, visit www.asta.org or contact Barbara O'Hara, vice president of government affairs, at [email protected].

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