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Editorial: Rehoboth tax for hotel, motel guests long overdue

September 18, 2018

Rehoboth Beach officials are considering imposing a city accommodations tax on hotels and motels – a tax similar to the 6 percent tax already paid by visitors who rent houses. The tax rate has not yet been established, but a 3 percent rate has been suggested.

The only real question about this tax is what took so long?

State government has long collected an 8 percent tax on hotel and motel rooms: 5 percent goes straight to the general fund; 1 percent goes to beach replenishment; 1 percent goes to the State Tourism Office and the remaining 1 percent is split among county tourism offices, including the chamber of commerce.

Meanwhile, the city receives nothing from that tax – nothing to offset the cost of police protection and lifeguards for the hundreds of thousands of people who stay in Rehoboth’s hotels and motels every year. It’s a population that, by any count, far outnumbers people who stay in private homes.

It’s about time for hotel guests to pay their fair share of the costs of providing safe streets, a safe beach and all the other services and amenities the city provides.

Why have all these people for years gotten a free pass, while people who rent houses first paid a 3 percent tax and now pay 6 percent tax?

It’s true residential renters are exempt from the state tax, but Rehoboth’s accommodations tax pays for services renters rely on. It’s only fair they help pay for these services, and hotel and motel guests should do the same.

It’s likely rain in the forecast would deter many more visitors than a 3 percent tax added to their hotel bills.

Visitors pay local taxes just about anywhere they travel to offset the cost of local services. Bethany Beach already imposes a tax on hotels; it’s well past time for Rehoboth to do the same.

Full disclosure: Cape Gazette Editorial Board member Laura Ritter owns a Rehoboth Beach property that is subject to the accommodations tax.

 

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.