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Attention all Texas Guides and Outfitters - Please Read *UPDATED*

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Attention all Texas Guides and Outfitters - Please Read *UPDATED*

Old 03-18-2009, 09:10 AM
  #1  
Fork Horn
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Default Attention all Texas Guides and Outfitters - Please Read *UPDATED*

I wasn't sure this was the correct forum in which to post this but I thought it would be the most appropriate.

I received a phone call from a gentleman at Lake Brownwood, TX that informed me of an effort by some in the chamber of commerce and possibly the county commissioners to impose a lodging tax on guides and outfitters. This may include ranches that are leased out year round but include a lodge.
It would basically be a local hotel/motel tax of 7% on top of the 6% that the state already gets. In effect this would be a 13% total tax. Ranchers who lease out their places for hunting would be responsible for paying this tax as well as guide/outfitter operations.

This is NOT being done in Austin by the legislature because it would have to have a state referendum and be voted on. This is a local, county by county effort. I'm sorry I do not currently have a list of counties that are also attempting this but each of you needs to contact your local Chamber of Commerce and your County Commissioners Court to see if such an effort may be under way in your area.

The gentleman that called me is David Autrey and he runs a small cottage/lodging operation at Lake Brownwood and is himself a former guide/outfitter and was trying to get the word out about this because it would affect him also. He gave me permission to post his name and phone number if anyone has any questions.

He further told me that the taxes raised here would supposedly be primarily for covering the “administrative cost” of the chamber of commerce to promote businesses and events in their area.

Brownwood is the only area that I currently have information on but I wouldn't be surprised if this was taking place in other areas as well. It appears that they are trying to slip in a tax without having to go through the normal legal channels in Austin.

There will be an open forum on this issue at the Brownwood Country Club at 11:30am on the 26th of March.
David's phone number is (325) 784-6509 and he has more information on this issue.

If I get anymore information on this issue I will pass it along.

Thanks.

Ryan Campbell
979 777 1725


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Old 03-26-2009, 07:39 PM
  #2  
Fork Horn
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Default RE: Attention all Texas Guides and Outfitters - Please Read


Meeting Update




The meeting concerning county taxes on hunting lodges in Brown County, TX was held today. There is some relevant information concerning the rest of the state as well. Giving full disclosure let me also say that I was not at this meeting as I had hoped to be because I had a child that was in the hospital until noon today. (she's doing well now, thank you.) However, I had several people taking notes for me and keeping me informed.
Let me also say that all guides and outfitters in Texas need to take notice of what is happing here because it can happen to you if you are not careful.


At the meeting at concerning the tax it was discussed that there would a 7% county tax on lodging on provided for hunts. There were some exceptions to this but they are vague, such as if a lodge is occupied for over 30days it would be exempt. The problem is that almost no one stays for 30 days at a time in a lodge. Most stay for a weekend or an extended weekend and thats about it. Further, the recommendation is that the minimum amount charged for lodging will be $15.00 per person. If this is not itemized, that is if lodging is not a separate cost or “free lodging is included in the hunt” the total amount of the hunt could be taxed. So, $10,000 hunt would owe $700 to the county. Anything could be considered a lodge if it is there permanently, including a travel trailer, barracks, a barn with lodging etc. The money raised from this tax would be under the control of the county commissioners but directed to the Chamber of Commerce to use for promotion of local events, businesses etc.


The principal person behind this proposal in Brown County is Debbie Morelock, owner of the Star of Texas Bed and Breakfast near Lake Brownwood. Apparently she believes that a tax on her neighbors will benefit her business because she will reap the benefits of free advertising. Ms. Morelock's VW Van with the flower sticker on it was a little out of place parked next to the farm and ranch trucks at the meeting. Perhaps she should take note that her ideas on taxing her neighbors and people who would normally recommend her business to others are out of place as well.
Another business owner, Blake Holleman, owner of the Sportsmans Center and Brownwood Outdoor World is also supposed to be pushing for this. Both are business owners that believe that they will receive benefits from this because their businesses are near the lake and in the area that the Chamber of Commerce will be promoting with it's new found revenue. Supposedly Mr. Holleman believes that businesses will receive 1% of their taxes back to be used toward whatever they want to use it for, such as advertising. I do not think Mr. Holleman is thinking this all the way through. Businesses are not going to receive 1% of the gross amount taxed in the county, they will receive 1% of what they individually pay in.


My statement is that both of these business owners need a harsh reality check in how not to
impose taxes on your neighbors for your personal gain. Of the several people I talked to about this meeting, they all agreed that the consensus was very strong against this proposal and that not only would they not do business with these two people, they would tell as many people as they could not to do business with them as well. Brownwood is a small town, it's not Houston or Dallas so word will travel quickly.


There are several other counties in the state that are also considering this they include but are not limited to: Scurry, Angelina, Nacadoches and Brazos Counties. Burnett County already has this in place and there was a Ms. Terri Freitag from the Burnett County Tourism Council in attendance to attest to the benefits of having this tax. I doubt Ms. Freitag has considered the burden this places on rural land owners, guides and outfitters.
This does not seem like a lot of money, 7% of $15.00 isn't very much, if thats the amount they come to. However, it is imposing the will of the few on the wishes of the many and it is one more irritating thing that landowners, guides and outfitters will have to keep up with in addition to their land taxes, school taxes, land payments, feed bills, income taxes etc.


Now, here is the part that all existing guides/outfitters and landowners need to pay attention to. Scott Joslov who is the President of the Hotel and Motel Assoc of Texas, he is also a lawyer, had his assistant call the state comptroller during the meeting and check some facts. When she reported back to Mr. Joslov it was reported that there already exist a 6% STATE tax on hunting lodges. This is 6% of the total amount of the hunt, meaning $600 of a $10,000 hunt. It can also be legally retro-active up to 4 years. Meaning if you grossed $100,000 per year for the last 4 years you could now owe $24,000.
Let me be upfront in saying that I do not have 100% of the facts straight on this 6% State tax, I will get more information as soon as I can. However, each of you needs to do the same. I have no reason to doubt that this is either currently the case, or soon may be. Several people I know are consulting tax lawyers, calling Austin etc. Each of you needs to do the same because if this is true, a lot of people could get hurt financially.
The only way around this in the future will be to itemize lodging and pay the tax on that amount.


So, with an additional 7% proposed by the county this could now come to a total of 13% taxes on your hunting lodge. It appears that Anti-hunters aren't the worst enemy the landowners, guides/outfitters, and hunters have at this moment in Texas. It's their local government and a vocal few who want to tax the way a lot of landowners pay their already high taxes.
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