‘Bed tax’ revenue up 65% for December 2021, compared to same month in 2020, latest reports show

Revenue marks 59% increase for first quarter of this fiscal year, compared to amount taken in during first quarter of 2020 fiscal year, before pandemic began

During the holidays, Lights in Bloom, a registered trademark of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, is a major draw for visitors as well as residents. This is the Caterpillar Tunnel as seen in December 2021. Photo by Cliff Roles, courtesy of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

The proverbial boom in Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue for the current fiscal year continued through December 2021, the latest reports from Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff show.

The county took in just under $3 million for that month. The total was $2,983,760.49. That figure represented an increase of $1,174,703.17, compared to the amount the Tax Collector’s Office received for December 2020: $1,809,057.32.

Thus, the December 2021 total is up almost 65%, compared to the figure for December 2020.

Altogether, with three months’ of revenue for the 2022 fiscal year, the Tourist Development Tax collections are higher by $2,899,767.18, compared to the amount turned over to the Tax Collector’s Office for the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year, the data show. For October, November and December 2021, the total Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue is $7,216,567.42, Ford-Coates and her staff have reported.

For the first quarter of the 2021 fiscal year, the TDT added up to $4,210,645.58.

During those early months of FY 2021, no COVID-19 vaccinations were available to the general public. Yet, for the first three months of the 2020 fiscal year — well before the first coronavirus cases were identified in Florida — the total TDT revenue was $4,534,139.51. Therefore, the bed tax collections for the first quarter of this fiscal year are up 59%, compared to the same period of the 2020 fiscal year.

This is the latest comparison report for the Tourist Development Tax revenue. Image courtesy Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

Additionally, the latest reports from the Tax Collector’s Office show increases in the revenue for October and November 2021. The October figure has grown to be $775,529.87 more than the October 2020 amount. The previous monthly report from the Tax Collector’s Office put the month-over-month increase at $774,190.39.

The figure for November 2021 is up even more, compared to the amount in the previous report. TDT revenue in November 2021 was higher by $949,534.14 than the total reported for November 2020, the latest data note. The previous report put that month-over-month increase at $905,694.20.

Ford-Coates and her staff have pointed out that audits and other enforcement action can lead to changes in the figures from one report to the next.

Among other details in the latest data, the Airbnb collections for the first quarter of this fiscal year added up to $991,052.10, which is approximately 67% higher than the $592,363.37 turned over to the Tax Collector’s Office for the same period of the 2021 fiscal year.

Altogether, the TDT revenue from rentals of accommodations through online platforms accounted for 20.69% of the total amount that Ford-Coates’ staff received through December 2021.

Along with Airbnb, Sarasota County has agreements in place to collect the bed tax revenue from hosts working through Vrbo.com and TripAdvisor and those companies’ subsidiaries.

Historically, the city of Sarasota and Siesta Key have waged a figurative competition over which location can collect the biggest portion of the TDT revenue each year. Through December 2021, entities in the city accounted for 30.69% of the total for this fiscal year. The figure for Siesta Key was 22.04%.

This is the latest report showing collections of Tourist Development Tax revenue by location within the county. Image courtesy Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

Typically, the city has a larger share of the TDT revenue earlier in each fiscal year, with Siesta Key generally passing the city by the end of the fiscal year.

In related news, Virginia Haley, president of the county’s tourism office, Visit Sarasota County, provided local leaders the data collected on her office’s behalf for December 2021.

That month saw 93,500 visitors, a 25.2% increase from the figure for December 2020, Haley wrote.

An even bigger jump came in terms of visitors’ direct expenditures in December, she noted. Those were up 75.8%, compared to the figure for December 2020. The amount for December 2021 was $128,297,200, she wrote.

Lodging occupancy in December was 65.2%, a 31.7% increase, compared to the percentage for December 2020, Haley added.

The average daily rate for lodging for December 2021 was $246.53, a 49.3% hike, compared to the amount for December 2020.

Finally, Haley pointed out, in December 2021, 222,400 room nights were sold, a 42.1% increase, compared to the number for December 2020.

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