Boston Mayor Proposes Tax Increase for Lodging and Meals

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino is calling for increased lodging and meal taxes in the city. The mayor's spokesperson Dot Joyce said the tax package is needed as an alternative source of venue during a tough financial time, beyond relying on property owners and state funding, according to The Boston Globe.

Menino's local-option tax package would raise the Boston hotel tax from 12.45 percent to 14.45 percent. The meal tax would be increased from 6.25 percent to 7 percent. This tax increase would come on top of the recent sales tax rate increase in the state of Massachusetts of 5 percent to 6.25 percent, which went into effect August 1.

"None of us like new taxes—we have kept property taxes steady—but as I see it, these local-option tax increases would primarily impact visitors to our City, and travel, tourism and convention business remains strong," Mayor Menino said in a statement. "Even with the proposed increase, Boston’s meals and hotel tax rates would remain lower than many other comparable cities like New York, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago."

President of Boston's City Council Michael Ross thinks the tax will be worthwhile.

"I think this is good public policy because it will align Boston’s vitality with that of its businesses," he told the Globe. "It’s the amenities that keep people attracted to the city...You’re not going to keep that if you’re losing $100 million to the state, as we did this year."

Those working in the Boston restaurant and hotel industries aren't as convinced.

"I don’t think it will shut any restaurants down, but I think it comes at a time when restaurants, like so many retail businesses, are having as difficult a time as I’ve seen in my 20-plus years here," commented Peter Christie, head of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.

What do you think? Would you take your Boston events elsewhere because of the tax increases? Or is event planning in Boston worthwhile when you considering alternative cities, such as Chicago hotels with 15.4 percent hotel taxes or Washington, DC restaurants with 10 percent meal taxes?
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