Dauphin County to Crack Down on Hotel Tax Noncompliance

Mar 20, 2024

HARRISBURG (March 20, 2024) Dauphin County Solicitor Justin McShane announced the formation of a new coalition, uniting Commissioners George Hartwick, III, Justin Douglas and Mike Pries, the Office of the Solicitor, and the Treasurer’s Office, to enforce the county’s hotel tax. The announcement was made at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting today.  

The excise tax on hotels was first instituted by a 2008 ordinance, which holds that hotel tax revenue is due on the last day of the month following the period in which the tax was collected. The current tax due is 5% of revenues collected. There are no exemptions to the county hotel tax under the ordinance except for federal and/or state employees on authorized business with proper documentation, McShane added.

Remittances and reports received after the due date are subject to a $100 fine and a 9% annual interest charge. There is no provision for exoneration of the late filing penalty and interest.

McShane thanked the many businesses that comply with the law and are “responsible corporate citizens.”

“Unfortunately, despite notice, there are businesses that collect and fail to remit this tax. In short, they take the money, but they don’t give it to us, the taxpayers. It is theft,” he said.

McShane warned of enforcement action to those who are not remitting the taxes they collect, as required by law. 

“The law is not optional. You must pay. We will start enforcement actions,” McShane said. “It is the taxpayer’s money, not yours.”                                                                                                              

“As our citizens prepare their own federal, state and local taxes, it seems only fair, timely and appropriate to ask those who have not paid their bills to do so as well,” said Hartwick. “The burden is lightened when everyone pays as provided by law. Yet, still, we have some entities who are in significant arrears year after year, and the time to rectify this noncompliance is long overdue.”

“We need to ensure that all revenue sources are being collected properly,” Pries said. “Initial estimates show that the county may be losing close to $200,000 each month due to this delinquency, and that loss is unacceptable.”

“I welcome this partnership with the commissioners and solicitor and will continue to partner with them to submit reports to the solicitor for enforcement action,” DiFrancesco said.  

“My office’s initial assessment of a Late Payment Report indicates 49 operations who are delinquent, with 328 Late Payment statements outstanding, with the oldest dating back to 2018,” he added.