Local Occupancy Tax in talks for Washington County, Tennessee

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) – On March 14, the Washington County, Tennessee Budget Committee heard an informal proposal from county Mayor Joe Grandy regarding a Hotel/Motel Tax.

The tax, also known as a Local Occupancy Tax, is collected by the local government for tourism purposes. Currently, Johnson City has a 7% tax, while Jonesborough has a 5% tax.

Grandy said the new tax would be in addition to what is already in place.

“The number I’ve been looking at would add one more percent to it,” said Grandy. “And to add to the Jonesborough tax that’s already in place and initiate one in the rural part of Washington County that would look like, maybe 4%.”

Adding a Local Occupancy Tax in the rural parts of Washington County would pick up AirBNBs, campgrounds and other short-term rentals that are not currently collecting any hotel/motel taxes.

The idea for the tax came from looking at the number of inbound flights at the Tri-Cities airport.

“There just isn’t a lot of inbound demand,” said Grandy. “What we’re looking at is trying to create an opportunity to market our region similar to what Ashville has done for years and years. Create an inbound demand for passengers, for people to come here, spend a few days taking advantage of all the great assets that we have in this community.”

According to Grandy, the revenue generated by the tax could be around $600,000 to $700,000 annually, money that would go back into local tourism marketing efforts.

“It’s utilizing that platform and other marketing platforms in Jonesborough and Johnson City,” said Grandy. “We really believe that we can add a lot of marketing that we currently don’t have.”

Grandy said the next step for the tax is for an official proposal to be created.

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