Denver wants to increase its hotel tax. Here's where that revenue goes

DENVER -- Tourists' hotel taxes benefit people who live in the Denver area. 

Did you know travelers pay a nearly 15-percent check-out tax on their hotel rooms in Denver? The city wants to raise that another one percent to revamp the downtown convention center. 

The convention center helps attract people, events and conferences. The hotels surrounding the center help rake in tax revenue. The checkout tax stands at 14.75 percent. 

"That's kind of high, like really, kind of high," said Christine Murphy, who was staying at a nearby hotel for a conference.

"When I booked it online and I got my quoted rate and saw what the actual rate was going to be, I was trying to figure out what the disparity was and I saw the tax and was like, wow," Murphy said. 

Most of the 14.75 percent goes back to the city and county. 

Here's the breakdown:

  • .10% goes to the Cultural Facilities District 
  • 1% heads to the Regional Transportation District 
  • 1.75% helps pay for the last convention center expansion
  • 2.75% goes to the Denver Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • 2.90% gets taken by the state
  • 3% for Convention Center Bonds
  • 3.25% heads into Denver's General Fund

The general fund is the city and county's street repairs, traffic management, police and fire departments and recycling to name a few.

"Unless you stay at a hotel, you're not paying for the tax," said Richard Scharf, president and CEO of Visit Denver.

He said the city brought in 89 million dollars in hotel tax revenue last year. 

"I think the last study we saw, if you took tourism out of the economy, each household would have to pay about 500 dollars more a year just to make up what the visitors pay, " Scharf said.

Scharf said even if the city moves to increase the tax rate by one percent, visitors would be paying about the same as Akron, Ohio.

Denver's city council must approve the tax increase and create a Tourism Improvement District. If passed, it would then go to a vote of the 116 hotels in Denver with 50 rooms or more. The hotel business leaders would vote in November. 

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