Panama City tourists could pay a steeper hotel bill

Panama City guests could see an additional charge on their hotel bill.
Panama City guests could see an additional charge on their hotel bill.(WTVY)
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 8:58 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Panama City Commissioners took the first step to amend the Business License Tax to include short-term rentals.

They did an initial reading of the amendment Tuesday.

It imposes a merchant fee, or 1% tax, on those who stay at short-term rentals and hotels in the city.

It’s comparable to a sales tax.

There’s already a separate 5-cent bed tax used to fund Destination Panama City.

City commissioners say the merchant fee is a way for folks who are not from the city to pay their fair share.

“This is a way for us to try to capture those tourism visits that are happening to the city,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said. “Whether it be short-term rentals, hotels, you name it, [we’ll] be able to put that back into our tax base.”

Street said the 1% tax is expected to generate more than $400,000 a year for Panama City.

Officials say it will go toward the city’s general funds, which provide money for municipal services, parks, etc.

Street said the goal is to make Panama City a more affordable place to live.

City commissioners plan to vote on at their next meeting on Oct. 11.

It will go into effect immediately if it passes.