Villa owners on St. John and throughout the territory will be paying their fair share of hotel occupancy taxes under pending legislation after the V.I. Senate overrode several vetoes by Governor John deJongh Jr., according to St. John Senator-at-Large Craig Barshinger.
At the start of the 30th Legislatures 2014 session Tuesday, January 14, the V.I. Senate overrode several of Governor’s vetoes of legislation which were part of the Omnibus bill passed in November at the Legislature’s final session of 2013.
One provision vetoed by Gov. deJongh from the Omnibus bill which the Senate has overridden was aimed at enforcement of the 10 percent hotel occupancy tax on those in the villa rental industry.
In vetoing the legislation, which mandated the hiring of employees by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to investigate and collect room taxes, Gov. deJongh said the mandate violated the separation of powers doctrine.
The Senate does not have the right to make administrative decisions for an executive department, Gov. deJongh said in his veto.
The territory could be losing as much as $20 million annually in uncollected hotel occupancy taxes, according to the sponsor of the original legislation, Sen. Janette Millin Young.
Barshinger is a strong supporter of Sen. Millin’s measure.
“Time To Increase Fairness”
“The Governor said ‘I need you to raise more money,’ yet there is $240 million in unpaid taxes the government simply did not collect,” Sen. Barshinger told Tradewinds. “You can’t just tax the people who are honest enough to pay taxes. This is a time to increase fairness.”
“People feel it’s better to pay tribute to the deJongh administration rather than pay taxes,” Sen.Barshinger added.
“Villa managers like (the legislation) because they are paying the taxes and they know others are not,” the St. John senator said. “Everyone operating above the radar welcomes the law. Not one person has come to ask us to not override.”
“Some people are paying,” Sen. Barshinger reiterated. “We should all be in this together.”