McKool Smith principal Steve Wolens was highlighted in a recent Bloomberg report that discussed the current state of hotel tax litigation involving Online Travel Companies (OTC). Mr. Wolens has litigated OTC tax cases for more than a decade, and has successfully represented the State of Hawaii, the City of San Antonio and 172 other Texas cities, along with other municipalities in securing hundreds of millions of dollars in awards against OTCs selling hotel rooms over the Internet, including Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Priceline, among others.
In discussing important factors to consider in OTC hotel tax cases, Mr. Wolens explained that there's not a global answer as to whether OTCs owe taxes. Instead, he noted that eh real question centered on “whether the OTCs have got the duty to collect and remit to the government. And whether or not it's going to be collected on the retail price the customer pays for the room as opposed to the wholesale price. And, just to be clear, the taxpayer in all these cases is the customer—it's not the online travel companies.”
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