Hotel – Motel Tax Suspended For Hurricane Ike Evacuees

September 17, 2008

With scores of Hurricane Ike victims temporarily sheltered in hotels and motels across Texas, Attorney General Greg Abbott is reminding innkeepers that they should not be collecting hotel and motel taxes from evacuees.

Beginning Sept. 8 for a period of 14 days, Gov. Rick Perry has suspended the collection of state and local hotel and motel taxes for victims of Hurricane Ike. Consumers who are charged those taxes in affected areas should inform the hotel or motel that they are evacuees and ask that the fees be removed from their bill.

If the charges are not removed storm evacuees, they should save their receipts and file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Complaint Hotline at 800-252-8011.

At the same time, evacuees also need to know their responsibilities, Abbott said.

“Texans who decide to stay at hotels and motels also should be aware that it is their responsibility to seek accommodations and make reservations. Under state law, hoteliers are not obligated to let evacuees stay at their facilities if there are no rooms available after their reservations expire,” Abbott said.

Financial assistance is available for hurricane evacuees who cannot afford extended stays at hotels or motels through FEMA. The amount of financial assistance available varies according to the city where the lodging is located. Evacuees seeking FEMA assistance should apply online at www.fema.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

Evacuees should keep written records and receipts of any transaction they believe violates the special protections afforded them during a declared disaster. If speaking directly with the service provider does not resolve the dispute, Texans should report it to the Consumer Complaint Hotline.

Hotline staff is available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. If Internet service is available, consumers may file a written complaint online at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov.

A disaster declaration triggers heightened enforcement authority for the Office of the Attorney General under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This authority is designed to prohibit exorbitant prices for necessities such as drinking water, food, batteries and generators.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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