Hotel tax exemptions could help AF save millions of dollars|
Posted 8/16/2012 Updated 8/16/2012
by Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
8/16/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- During a time of increasing DoD budget constraints, the Air Force continuously looks for innovative solutions that save money and positively impacts the mission.
Air Education and Training Command's Financial Management office said Air Force travelers could help save millions of dollars by taking advantage of tax exemptions while using the government travel card at hotel in select states.
Those traveling to Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas or Wisconsin and stay in off-base lodging are exempt from paying state sales tax for the hotel room. Visit https://smartpay.gsa.gov/about-gsa-smartpay/tax-information/state-response-letter for a list states hyperlinked to more information about the tax exemptions.
Temporary duty budgets have been significantly reduced across the command, and has increased the use of online meeting capabilities such as Defense Connect Online and video teleconferences to save money. However, there are times when using web-based capabilities or VTC are not the best methods for conducting the meeting.
"When that's the case and TDYs are required to fulfill the mission, we can do more to stretch our dollars," said Judy Griffis, a financial specialist with AETC.
"The resources we have to accomplish our AETC mission are declining," said Col. Charles Fiquett, director of AETC Financial Management. "As a result, and across the command, we're looking at every Airman at every level to do whatever they can to save dollars while becoming more efficient. The Cost Conscious Culture initiative is designed to do exactly that--sustain excellence while responding to declining resources."
While most formal training classes require students to be billeted on installations, that's not always the case.
"In just one month, AETC's TDY to school program paid more than $3,200 in sales taxes on hotel rooms--that's more than $40,000 a year!" Griffis said.
The financial specialist said the cost in hotel taxes doesn't account for frequent travelers. The potential overall savings within AETC is even greater when considering this.
For a TDY to San Antonio there are three taxes that are added on to room rates: six percent room state tax, nine percent room city tax and 1.75 percent county tax. Since the lodging rate for San Antonio is $106 per day, travelers are potentially unnecessarily paying $17.76 in taxes daily for their hotel room. Those kinds of expenditures can add up quickly across the command.
Griffis gave a few tips on how save money when staying in off-base lodging in the states mentioned above:
"When going to a location that offers the state tax exemption, use it," she said. "Save the link above to your browser.
"Print the form out from the website, or better yet--embed the form into your orders, just like you embed your receipts into your voucher. This will give you access to the form from anywhere," Griffis said.
"Also, give the tax exempt form to the hotel clerk when you check-in," she said. "And last but not least, support a cost conscious culture (C3)."
Fiquett said it takes a Total Force effort to get everyone in AETC to think deliberately about saving money.
"Thanks to everyone who is helping AETC to become a more cost-conscious command," he said. "You're helping AETC stretch dollars so that we can continue to do what we do best--deliver the best trained Airmen possible to serve our Nation."