Hotel chains oppose online travel agency tax bill in FloridaNewsBy Dennis Schaal | February 7, 2011Share This article was originally published on Major hotel chains as well as the American Hotel & Lodging Association have lined up to oppose the latest effort by online travel agencies to get legislation passed in Florida that would prohibit efforts to tax them on retail hotel rates.Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott and Starwood are among the chains which signed a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott opposing the legislation.Online travel agencies, however, have found allies in Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, who fear that making the OTAs remit taxes beyond those levied on their wholesale rates would also impact the theme parks' tax liabilities in selling vacation pages, the Orlando Sentinel reports.The Florida legislature is considering a bill that the OTAs have lobbied for.In the letter to Gov. Scott, the hotels and their trade association argue that the pending legislation "would have severe and negative consequences for hotels and restaurants operating and employing people in Florida."If a jurisdiction were permitted collect to taxes on OTA hotel sales based on wholesale rates only, then this would create a two-tiered tax system because hotels would still have to pay taxes on the higher retail rate, as they do now, the hoteliers say."The net effect of this legislation will be to shift the tax burden from the online travel companies to hotels, restaurants and other businesses employing people in Florida's communities at a time when the industry can least afford it," the letter says.The OTAs argue, on the other hand, that they bring incremental tourism to Florida -- and other states -- and that limiting their ability to do business by imposing unfair taxes would only hurt state tourism.