Credit the Gulf County Tax Collector for pulling down another Hurricane Michael rebound.
Tax Collector Shirley Jenkins announced this week that her office is officially launching an online bed tax collection system today, nearly two years since discussions initially arose pertaining to updating the bed tax collection system.
After purchasing the software and having it installed last summer, then loading existing data into the system, Jenkins and her team were prepared to move ahead last fall.
“We were getting ready to launch and then the storm came,” Jenkins said, referring to Hurricane Michael.
“After the storm, we then had to spend several months updating which tax collectors were coming back and which were not.”
The software has a variety of features, including allowing bed tax collectors to remit bed taxes electronically and register new accounts online.
“That will make it so much easier for tax collectors,” said Kelli Godwin, Executive Director of the Gulf County Tourist Development Council.
“We are so excited. We have been waiting more than a year.”
Another critical piece of the software is the data base that is created and the ability to sift through to uncover those who might be renting beyond six months but not collecting or submitting bed taxes.
If a rental is rented for at least six months or less, a bed tax is required to be collected by state law.
“It will allow us to capture bed taxes we should have been collecting all along,” Godwin said.
In fact, the effort to ensure accurate bed tax submissions from all who were required was a central focus when the TDC advisory board, former director Jennifer Adams and Jenkins approached the Board of County Commissioners concerning an update to the bed tax collection system.
There was a belief that a percentage of vacation rentals, particularly those rented by individuals or through websites that provide a portal for listing individual rentals, were not submitting bed taxes as required.
Another goal was to increase the accuracy and timeliness of visitor data to permit the TDC to identify marketing gains and weaknesses and adjust future plans accordingly.
For additional information, contact Jenkins’ office at 229-5353 or 227-2318 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.