PHOENIX --– A Michigan man is suing Maricopa County, Ariz., because he had to pay increased taxes on his hotel room and car rental while visiting two years ago.
Those taxes imposed on tourists are collected by the Tourism and Sports Authority to pay for the new Arizona Cardinals football stadium in Glendale.
The disgruntled tourist, Michael Devine, claims that the taxes are illegal because they are aimed at out-of-state travelers.
According to Devine's attorney, Greg Hanley, the tax is unconstitutional. Hanley said that the federal constitution has the Dormant Commerce Clause, which prevents states from discriminating against interstate commerce – treating state residents better than the visitors. He says the best example of that is a tax that isn't imposed on the people that benefit from it.
"Our complaint's allegation is that this rental car tax and hotel tax target visitors and seek to shift the burden of building this new stadium from the Arizona taxpayers to the visitors who don’t have a voice in whether the tax should have been approved," Hanley says. He suggests that the only way the tax could have been pushed through politically was to sell it as a tax on tourists.
If Devine and Hanley have success, the ramifications could possibly see a reversal of similar taxes in other parts of the country, however, Hanley sees Arizona as unique.
"The Arizona case, in our view, was unique because the discrimination was so blatant and evident," he said.
The complaint was just recently filed, but the case has been progressing for about a year.