‘Bed tax’ revenue continues to climb this fiscal year

Total for first three months up about 45%, compared to same period for 2022 fiscal year

Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue for the 2023 fiscal year continued climbing in December 2022, the latest reports from the Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office show.

The revenue was $747,803.61 higher that month than the figure for December 2021, the reports point out.

In December 2022, entities that collect the funds generated by the 6% county tax on rentals of accommodations for six months or less time turned over $3,789,906.48 to Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff, the data show.

For the first time in December 2021, the total for that month exceeded $3 million, Ford-Coates’ records note.

The revenue collected in both October and November 2022 also exceeded $3 million.

Altogether, through the first three months of the 2023 fiscal year, the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) funds added up to $10,447,343.74, the reports say. That figure is up by $3,151,937.47, compared to the amount of money generated in the same three months of the 2022 fiscal year, the reports point out.

Moreover, the total thus far this fiscal year is almost 45% higher than the amount Ford-Coates’ staff initially released for the first three months of the 2022 fiscal year, which was $7,216,567.42.

Another detail in the latest reports is the fact that Airbnb hosts have turned over to the Tax Collector’s Office $1,711,355.20 in TDT revenue since the start of this fiscal year. That figure is up almost 73%, compared to the Airbnb total of $991,052.10 in the Tax Collector’s first report on the initial three months of collections in the 2022 fiscal year.

As a result of audits and other enforcement actions, Ford-Coates and her staff have explained, the TDT figures can change in subsequent reports. For example, the first report on November 2022 data put the total revenue for that month at $3,084,313.19. The new data show that total has been raised to at $3,224,058.75, an increase of about 4.5%.

The latest documents also show an uptick in the October 2022 figure. The TDT revenue rose from $3,370,262.65 in the reports last month to $3,433,378.51 in the new reports.

Yet another facet of the most recent TDT data is that revenue from all of the online platforms — Airbnb, HomeAway and TripAdvisor, plus all of the subsidiaries of the latter two companies — made up 23.23% of the bed tax revenue through December 2022. The collections from those platforms from September 2021 through December 2021 added up to 20.69% of the total.

None of those companies provides details to the Tax Collector’s Office about its hosts, Ford-Coates and her staff have explained, referencing the contracts that the Office of the County Attorney drafted to enable the Tax Collector’s Office to collect the online platforms’ bed tax funds each month.

Figuratively speaking, the City of Sarasota and Siesta Key have waged battle over the years to “win” the competition for the largest contribution to the annual TDT total. The new reports show that the city has accounted for 29.03% of the revenue for the first three months of the 2023 fiscal year, with Siesta in third place, behind the online rental platforms, with 20.07%.

Along with the monthly data provided by Tax Collector Ford-Coates and her staff, Visit Sarasota County — the county’s tourism office — receives statistics each month from a Tallahassee firm, Downs & St. Germain Research, with which it has a contract.

The December 2022 report from that firm showed the following:

  • The number of visitors in December was 100,200, up 7.2% from the December 2021 figure.
  • Direct visitor spending in December was $139,457,400, which marked an 8.7% climb from the December 2021 total.
  • Room occupancy was 65.9%, up slightly — 1.1% — in comparison to the number of rooms sold in 2021.
  • The average room rate in December 2022 was $264.13, a 7.1% uptick from the December 2021 figure.
  • The number of room nights sold in December 2022 jumped 19.9%, compared to the total for December 2021.

In regard to expectations for the coming months, expressed by managers of tourist-targeted properties: The Downs & St. Germain report said that those were mixed. The number of general managers anticipating higher demand was the same as the figure for those expecting less demand for the months of January through March.