A proposal to taxes travel agency services in Utah has been defeated following a grassroots campaign by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and its member agencies.
ASTA reports that the Utah legislature passed a new tax bill in a special one-day session Tuesday, December 17. Initially, the legislation had called for lowering the state’s sales and use tax rate from 4.7 percent to 3.1 percent; however, it also would have expanded the tax to “the amounts paid or charged for a sale of a service performed by a seller” unless the service is specifically exempted. These services would have included travel agency services sold by ASTA members, but, after pushback from the business community (including ASTA members), the issue was sent to a task force for further review.
The bill that was passed Tuesday limited the services portion of the tax to a limited number, including pet boarding, towing, parking lots, Uber and other ride-hailing apps and dating referrals, but not travel agency or tour operator services. The Governor is expected to sign the bill in the next few days, ASTA said.
According to ASTA, 193 people sent close to 600 messages to Utah legislators as part of a grassroots campaign this spring against the proposal to tax travel agency services.
“Special thanks is due to Brian Hollien of Morris Murdock in Salt Lake City, who multiple times this year visited the legislature, attended tax reform task force meetings and kept ASTA headquarters and our Utah members up to date on the proceedings,” ASTA said in a statement announcing the passage of the final legislation. “Without his efforts, our chances of avoiding a tax increase would have been much reduced.”