May ‘bed tax’ collections down $31,402, compared to May 2021 total, Tax Collector’s Office reports

County still on track to beat $31-million record set for 2021 fiscal year

On May 23, a Visit Sarasota County Facebook post notes that the date marks World Turtle Day. It was only appropriate, Visit Sarasota County added, to show a video from the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium on City Island. This is a still from that video. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County via Facebook

For the first time this fiscal year, Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Tax — or, “bed tax” — revenue is down month-over-month. And that month is May.

The latest reports from Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates and her staff show the collections for May were $31,402.28 lower than the figure for May 2021.

The total revenue for May was $2,856,950.32, the reports note. That marked a drop of close to 1.1% from the May 2021 figure of $2,888,352.60.

Nonetheless, the total Tourist Development Tax (TDT) collections from Oct. 1, 2021 through May still put the county in a position to beat the record that the funds set last fiscal year.

With four months left to go in this fiscal year, the funds add up to $29,715,619.63, Ford-Coates’ reports show. Altogether, the county received $31,056,760.77 in TDT revenue in the 2021 fiscal year.

Through the first eight months of the 2021 fiscal year, the total Ford-Coates’ staff reported at that time was $20,981,332.14. Thus, the total through May of this fiscal year is almost 42% higher than the total generated through May last fiscal year.

This is the Tourist Development Tax comparison report for May. Image courtesy Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

The “bed tax” revenue comes from a 5% tax charged on accommodations rented for six months or less time. With the approval of the County Commission earlier this year, the tax will rise to 6% as of Oct. 1.

Among other factors of note in the new reports, the differences between the FY 2021 and FY 2022 collections for February, March and April climbed even more. As Ford-Coates and her staff point out, audits and other enforcement actions can lead to changes in the numbers from one report to the next.

The previous report put the month-over-month uptick for February at $1,670,872.48. The new data raise that to $1,673,102.56.

For March, the month-over-month increase previously reported was $1,416,890.60. The latest data put the difference at $1,424,133.69.

Finally, the month-over-month uptick for April in the earlier report was listed as $846,651.72. The latest data say the difference is $855,997.17.

On the flip side of those changes, the new data show that the month-over-month total for November 2021 actually is lower than reported the previous month. Instead of $960,523.10, it is $960,453.02.

On the positive side again: The TDT revenue collected by Airbnb hosts through May of this fiscal year adds up to $3,466,629.36. For the same period of the 2021 fiscal year, the Airbnb total was $2,727,759.87. Thus, the FY 2022 figure is up 27%, compared to the FY 2021 total.

Additionally, the revenue generated by all of the online tourist accommodation platforms with which the county has TDT collections contracts makes up 19.03% of the total through May.

Along with Airbnb, TripAdvisor and HomeAway — and all of their subsidiaries — must turn over the bed tax money that their hosts collect.

This is the May Tourist Development Tax report showing the collections by location in the county through that month. Image courtesy Sarasota County Tax Collector Barbara Ford-Coates

And speaking of those percentages: The City of Sarasota continues to lead Siesta Key in the amount of TDT revenue generated for this fiscal year. The city’s percentage through May is 27.72%. For the Key, it is 25.33%. Typically, by the end of the fiscal year, Siesta Key bests the city.

Virginia Haley, president of the county’s tourism office — Visit Sarasota County — also provides a monthly update to local government leaders in regard to tourism data that a Tallahassee firm — Downs & St. Germain Research — collects for her staff.

In her report for May, Haley noted the following:

  • “We had 142,800 visitors [in May of this year], a drop of 7.9%,” compared to the May 2021 count.
  • Visitors’ total economic impact in May was $248,445,100, an increase of 2.3%, compared to the May 2021 figure.
  • Lodging occupancy in May was 72.9%, a drop of 6.5%, compared to the figure for May 2021.
  • The average room rate for lodging was $239.32, an increase of 12.1%, compared to the rate for May 2021.
  • The number of room nights sold was 282,500, an increase of 1.6%, compared to the May 2021 total.