Governor Abbott has again amended his disaster proclamation to include an additional four (4) counties in addition to the 50 prior named disaster areas. The additional counties now included are: Bastrop, Burleson, Polk and San Jacinto. To view the full (latest amended) disaster proclamation with a list of all 54 counties that are disaster areas, please click here. As noted in prior alerts, evacuees from any of the 54 noted counties as well as emergency relief workers with documentation are exempt from all state AND local hotel occupancy taxes during the two week exemption provided by the Governor’s proclamation suspending hotel occupancy taxes found here.
Hotel Room Availability Across Texas
We have provided both the Governor’s Office and our membership directly a list of 800 numbers for the major hotel brands to provide consumers real time information about lodging that they can reserve in areas throughout Texas that may be reasonably accessible to the evacuees. Please utilize this resource as calling the hotel brands directly can result in the best, most real-time information concerning hotel room availability.
Suspension of State and Local Hotel Occupancy Taxes
State and local hotel occupancy taxes are temporarily suspended for evacuees from the designated disaster prone areas and documented relief workers. Accordingly, both the statewide six (6) percent state hotel occupancy tax and all other local hotel occupancy taxes shall not be charged to guests who are the victims of Hurricane Harvey or personnel participating in relief operations. This suspension is effective for a period of 14 days, beginning August 23, 2017, and ending September 6, 2017.
Accordingly, hotels should ask each hotel guest at check-in or at check-out if they are evacuating from one of the 54 disaster-prone counties noted in Governor Abbott’s latest amended disaster proclamation. If the guest is from such an area or is a documented relief worker, the hotel should provide the guest a hotel tax exemption certificate to fill out and the hotel should not apply local or state hotel occupancy taxes to that guest’s room night charges for the Governor’s declared hotel tax exemption period. If the hotel’s electronic billing system does not allow suspension of the hotel tax charges, a refund of the state and local hotel tax charges should be provided to the guest upon checkout. As noted above, each guest who is given this exemption from hotel tax should be asked to complete the standard hotel tax exemption certificate which most hotels have on site or can access through this link: https://comptroller.texas.gov/forms/12-302.pdf.
On the hotel tax exemption certificate form, the guest should:
- At the top of the form where it asks for the “Name of the exempt entity,” the guest should write in their personal name, and their home address including the county.
- At the bottom of the form, the guest should check the box for “Exempt by Other Federal or State Law and write in: “Hurricane Harvey Evacuee from ——- (fill in) County.” If the guest is a relief worker, they should instead indicate “Relief Worker” and include a signed statement from their agency indicating that they were dispatched due to the relief effort.
Hotels will also later document the provision of these exemptions in the hotel’s monthly or quarterly hotel tax remittance to the local and state government.
Pet Fees and Pet Deposits
THLA has received a number of questions about pet fees and pet deposits. While there is no legal requirement for hoteliers to waive pet fees or pet deposits during a storm emergency, a number of hotel properties are waiving these fees and deposits as a courtesy for evacuees. Similarly, hotels that ordinarily do not allow pets are not required to change their policy, but most hotels are waiving these restrictions for evacuees. In all cases, if a pet is permitted, the hotel can hold the guest liable for any damages to the room caused by the pet.