NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- It's not cheap to stay in a hotel room in New Hanover County especially when you consider those extra taxes and fees. Ever wonder where that money goes? In New Hanover County a 13 percent room occupancy tax is added to guests' bills. Managers of hotels, bed and breakfasts and even rented homes charge the room occupancy tax. New Hanover County officials have just hired independent auditors to make sure property owners are charging the tax properly. That tax is paid by the customer and is included in the bill. About half of the tax proceeds go to the county and the other half goes to the state. That money then pays for things like beach restoration, tourism promotion and the convention center project. One auditor said it's important for hotel owners to understand that taxes are already included in their gross receipts. Auditor John White said, "The definition of gross receipts is the amount of money, say, you would pay to XYZ hotel for a one-night occupancy. They might charge you $50, $60, $70, but there is taxes added to that." Those taxes include both sales and the occupancy taxes enforced by the county. This is the first time the county has hired an auditor to ensure that the room occupancy tax is being properly charged. Apparently it can be pretty confusing for hotel guests, and hotel owners -- and hotel owners have been known to actually overpay their tax bill.
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