As area hotels and motels fill to capacity for Masters Week, Columbia County officials feel more secure that the correct amount of tax dollars from those stays now end up in the county’s coffers.
An audit conducted last year by Serotta, Maddocks, Evans & Co. showed that many Columbia County motels either shortchanged or overpaid on county taxes.
From July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, which is the period auditors focused on, area hotels underpaid taxes by nearly $917 or overpaid by nearly $1,000.
But a recent follow-up audit conducted on revenues collected July 1 through Nov. 30 last year showed that area motels were paying the correct taxes.
“It sounds like they’re all complying,” county Finance Services Director Leanne Reece said of the audit results, though adding that she had not yet seen the final report.
Reece attributes improved tax collections to a simplified form distributed to the hotels following the initial audit.
Motels must pay taxes to the county and state. The state receives a 7 percent sales tax, while the county gets 5 percent.
A portion of the county’s share of the tax is used to fund the Columbia County Convention and Visitors Bureau, while the remainder is used for production and promotion of county events.
Reece and auditors believe motel executives sometimes confused which payment went where. The new form clarified that issue.
“They’re all using the new form and it seems to be working,” she said.
Also, the new report released in March included motels left out of the initial audit. According to the report, those motels also are in compliance.