Tax on Agency Services Stripped From Kentucky Tax Reform Bill

The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is praising its members for their grassroots efforts in defeating a Kentucky proposal to expand the state’s sales taxes to travel agency services, saving agencies there close to $2 million a year collectively in new taxes.

In March, the Kentucky House of Representatives unveiled and quickly passed House Bill (HB) 8, which among other things would subject 39 different service industries to the state’s 6 percent sales tax for the first time, including “travel arrangement and reservation services.” While the bill did not make clear how a tax on the “gross receipts” of such services would apply to travel agencies (i.e. service fees, commissions, gross sales including supplier revenue, etc.), ASTA estimated that if narrowly implemented—capturing agency service fees and commissions as opposed to gross sales—it would cost the average Kentucky agency over $25,000 per year in new taxes, threatening additional layoffs and agency closures beyond those already caused by COVID-19.

“Expanding Kentucky’s 6 percent sales tax to travel agency services would have been devastating for travel agencies, especially just as they are beginning to recover from the trauma of COVID-19,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s executive vice president for advocacy. “We applaud our Kentucky members for answering the call in this fight and appreciate Kentucky legislators for listening to their constituents and dropping this provision from the tax reform bill.”

As the bill went to the Senate on March 4, ASTA launched a grassroots campaign and called on its Kentucky members to contact their state senators in opposition. These efforts bore fruit in late March, when the Senate removed travel agencies (and two others) from the list of newly taxed industries. The amended bill passed the Senate and although it was vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear on April 8, the governor’s veto was overridden five days later and the bill became law.

“The hard work of ASTA members in Kentucky—Lee Thomas of Altour in Louisville, in particular—ensures that agencies in the commonwealth won’t be slapped with almost $2 million collectively in new taxes every year,” added Peck.

Related Stories

Stats: Experiential Travel Spend Up 34 Percent Over 2019 Levels

ASTA Announces New Staff Hires, Promotions

House Group Makes Call to Exempt Vaxxed Travelers From Test Rule

House Passes Relief for Small Businesses; ASTA Applauds Move