Statewide lodging tax makes it to House floor after much tinkering

Photo: The Wort Hotel, Jackson WY

WYOMING – A statewide lodging tax will move forward in the Wyoming Legislature after much discussion and a handful of iterations.

Senate president Eli Bebout-R, Riverton, spearheaded the effort to create the bill that would establish a four percent statewide lodging tax even before the budget session got underway this week. After tweaking the bill numerous times, including reducing the proposed tax from six to four percent, a fifth version finally made it out of Management Council and is headed to the floor of the House with the number HB174.

Of the 4%, half would go to the state’s general fund and presumably be a means to fund the Wyoming Office of Tourism. The other 2% would go to local governments, which currently have the ability to impose up to a 4% lodging tax of their own. Teton County imposes a 2% lodging tax, locally. That tax is up for renewal at this year’s general election in November.

Some say it will be a hard sell at the polls given the amount of tourism the valley has seen in the seven years the tax has been in effect. Others think not only should the tax remain but increasing it might help mitigate tourist impact. Increasing the local lodging tax at the county level would not be possible if the new bill passes.

Under HB174, local authority would be limited to a 2% maximum lodging tax option, making the most a hotel, motel, or short-term vacation rental could impose is a 6% tax on lodging. 4% would be collected by the state and 2% collected by the local authority the funds would then be distrusted 2% to the state and 4% local.

During a budget session, the bill would need a two-thirds vote to pass.