With four months of funds left to collect this fiscal year, amount through May only about $2.3 million below record figure for 2022 fiscal year
As evidenced by the latest reports from Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff, the Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue is continuing its climb toward another record.
Through May, entities that collect the 6% tax on accommodations rented for six months or less time already had turned over $37,991,601.51 to the Tax Collector’s Office, with four months left in this fiscal year.
The total for the 2022 fiscal year — which set a record — was $40,306,246.28, Ford-Coates and her staff note in the latest reports. Thus, the amount of money collected from Oct. 1, 2022 through May represents approximately 94% of the 2022 total.
Another monthly record was set in May, for that matter. For the first time, the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections exceeded the $3-million mark. The figure provided in the new reports is $3,304,364.87. That is higher by $307,947.10 — slightly more than 10% — compared to the May 2022 total of $2,996,417.77.
For the first time ever in a single month, in March, the bed tax revenue surpassed $7 million. Additionally, the April total was above $5 million, which also was a record.
With the fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, the TDT revenue is up $8,098,807.73, compared to the amount turned over to Ford-Coates and her staff for the first eight months of the 2022 fiscal year.
Coincidentally, the total taken in by the Tax Collector’s Office through May 2022 was higher by $8,591,517.50, compared to the amount collected for the 2021 fiscal year through that month. However, during 2021, TDT figures still were recovering from the decline in tourism produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, the higher amounts this fiscal year are partly a factor of the County Commission’s decision to raise the tax from 5% to 6% on Oct. 1, 2022. State law allowed the board to take that action, based on the amount of money the county had collected in TDT funds for the 2021 calendar year.
Among other details in the new reports, the Tax Collector’s Office shows that revenue Airbnb hosts have collected added up to $4,926,638.15 through May. That figure represents a jump of 42%, compared to the $3,466,629.36 recorded through May 2022.
Altogether, rentals of accommodations through online platforms — including TripAdvisor, HomeAway and all of their subsidiaries — represented 20.36% of the total the Tax Collector’s Office had received through May of this fiscal year.
Traditionally, as The Sarasota News Leader has reported, the City of Sarasota and Siesta Key have waged a figurative competition to see which will prevail in the race to collect the highest percentage of the annual TDT revenue. The city beat Siesta last year. Through May, the city remains in the lead, with 26.74% of the revenue. Siesta Key’s share was 24.71%.
The figures through May 2022 were 27.72% for the city and 25.33% for Siesta Key.
The new data also show higher revisions of past monthly totals. For example, the initial report for April put the month-over-month uptick at $618,813.49. The new report shows the difference between the April 2022 figure and the total for April of this year is $711,725.39.
Ford-Coates and her staff have explained that audits and other enforcement actions can lead to changes from one report to the next.
For another example, the amount of TDT revenue this March is up $1,073,910.06, instead of $1,047,759.04, as shown in the previous reports.
Along with the data that the Tax Collector’s Office produces each month, Visit Sarasota County — the county’s tourism office — receives information from a Tallahassee firm, Downs & St. Germain Research.
That report for May shows that the number of visitors that month was down 1.5%, from 142,800 in May 2022 to 140,610 this May. However, the tourists’ direct expenditures climbed 3.6%, month over month. The total for May 2022 was $150,572,800, while the figure for this May was $156,037,800.
The following are other data in the Downs & St. Germain report:
- Room occupancy declined 9.3%, from 72.9% in May 2022 to 66.1% this May.
- The average room rate this May was $251.17, which was 5% higher than the May 2022 amount of $239.32.
- The number of room nights sold in May of this year was 276,400, a 2.2% decline, compared to the May 2022 total of 282,500.
Downs & St. Germain staff members also check with managers of accommodations each month, to get a sense of how things look in the near future in terms of tourism. The May report says that the property managers “were neutral on the next three months,” with two-thirds of them reporting similar demand and the rest split: 17% expecting increased demand and 17% expecting lower demand.