BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Eight Alabama cities, including Birmingham are saying "give us our lodging taxes". A lawsuit filed Friday claims internet hotel-booking sites are not paying owed taxes, which could add up to millions of dollars.
Local attorneys claim internet companies charged a lodging tax to customers booking hotel rooms, then never gave the money to the city, saying this is a perfect case of corporate greed.
"When those online travel companies sell them online to you and myself we pay the 15 percent or so tax, but it goes into the coffers of Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com and the other companies we have sued," says attorney Henry Frohsin. "Its just a profit item from them, there are millions of dollars at stake here."
Frohsin says similar suits have been filed in Texas, Georgia and Virginia with millions of dollars going to cities in back-taxes. On behalf of Alabama cities and the BJCC authority, Frohsin is asking for companies to pay up, interest included. "Those moneys need to flow back into the coffers of the municipalities so they can direct them to infrastructure or whatever, but who's keeping them? Travelocity, hotels.com, expedia, etc.," Frohsin said.
The case is a non-jury case and will go straight to a judge.
Attorneys say the corporate greed needs to stop. "The taxpayers need to know the interest clock is ticking sort of like the Fram Oil Filter Man. They can pay us now or they can pay us later."