ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Bill Connors, CTC, executive director and COO of the National Business Travel Association, an association representing corporate and government travel managers and suppliers, appeared in April before a Florida Senate Transportation Committee hearing in Tallahassee, Fla., to address a proposed $2 car rental levy.

The hearing focused on HB 301 and SB 263, a pending bill that would enable Florida counties to impose an additional $2 per day tax on car rentals. In his testimony, Connors discussed the impact of the legislation on local businesses and corporate travelers.

Current examples of the tax include a proposed pedestrian transportation project in Tallahassee, including sidewalk construction. And in South Florida, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties are looking to impose a 2% increase to fund rail projects for the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

"Increases in car rental excise taxes in municipalities are quickly becoming a major issue in the business travel market," Connors said after his testimony. "Mainly because legislators believe it is the ideal way to fund projects without taxing voting constituents. In actuality, they are imposing additional taxes on local businesses that already pay their fair share."

In fact, an April 16, 2006, Sun-Sentinel article reported SFRTA executive director Joe Giulietti saying, "People know that more solutions are needed. None of us want to pay more taxes." But in a recent poll published on NBTA’s Web site, 62% of respondents reported that more than half of their companies’ car rental spending took place in the local market.

"Legislators must be mindful of the impact car rental excise taxes will have on businesses in their municipalities," Connors continued. "It may not seem like much, but when you calculate the number of local car rentals businesses used for in-state employees or bringing employees and clients from other locations to a destination, we are talking about a tremendous financial burden."

Prior to the April 18 hearing, Connors participated in a press conference with representatives with the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, Americans for Tax Reform, and AAA to further explain their opposition to the proposed car rental excise tax increase.

"This is obviously an important issue within the travel industry. NBTA is pleased to be the voice of corporate travel as serious discussion related to the impact of car rental excise tax is brought before local and state governments and within local communities."