Cruz wants report on hotel tax delinquencies

ditulis oleh : Jomblo Terhormat 27 Juli 2013
SEN. Benjamin Cruz, vice speaker of the 32nd Guam Legislature, is trying to determine the truth of a report that as much as 25 percent of the island’s hotel occupancy tax is not being remitted to the government of Guam. Cruz yesterday hand-delivered a Freedom of Information Act request to John Camacho, director of the Department of Revenue and Taxation, asking whether it is true that all hotels are not current with their hotel occupancy tax payments. He also asked for a list indicating how many, if any, hotels are delinquent, for how long each has been delinquent, and how much tax each owes.

He also noted that willful failure to pay the tax is a felony and asked whether Rev and Tax has referred any delinquent hotels to the Attorney General.

According to the letter, during a recent lunch with community members, an attendee told Cruz that as many as a dozen hotels are not remitting the 11 percent hotel occupancy tax that is charged each guest to fund the Tourist Attraction Fund. “It’s not someone from Rev and Tax; it’s not someone from [the Guam Visitors Bureau]. But it’s someone in the know,” he said. “We need to either debunk [reports of underreporting] or get it out on the table.”

Cruz said he had been pleased to hear that the amount of occupancy tax revenue may reach $30 million this year, but then was distressed to hear that an additional $10 million may not be collected.

Cruz raised the topic during a Special Economic Service public hearing at the Legislature yesterday morning. When GVB officials reported the positive occupancy tax projections, he asked about the lunch-conversation report and later delivered the FOIA request to Camacho. 

Camacho told Variety he had not yet had a chance to review Cruz’s letter, but said would be working with his staff to provide the information within the four-working-day FOIA deadline. 

Cruz said he thought that if true, the problem was a lack of manpower in Rev and Tax. “It’s just that they don’t have the people to do all the audits,” he said. He plans to propose using $200,000 from the Tourist Attraction Fund to fund an independent audit of the tax collections. “It would be a good investment if we could recover even $2 million,” he said.

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