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Lodging Tax Imminent – Voice Your Opinion!

Written by Joan Talmadge
5/5 - (2 votes)

Beacon Hill lawmakers seem poised to bring the lodging tax to fruition, although the details have yet to be decided upon.  For years, and particularly this past year, we have been voicing our opinion about the negative consequences of this tax through the media and meetings with legislators at the State House.  At our encouragement, many of you have written to legislators to voice your concerns.  Until this year, the political will has not been sufficient to pass this tax bill.  It now appears inevitable that a Lodging Tax bill of some kind will be passed this summer. Time is of the essence to communicate with our legislators!

In case you missed it, here is our opinion piece that was published the April 5 edition of the Cape Cod Times.

There will be four opportunities to meet with legislators on the Cape and voice your opinion on the tax.

On Sunday, June 11, from 12:30 – 2:30, there will be a Town Hall Meeting with State Senator Julian Cyr and State Representative Sarah Peake at the Wellfleet Senior Center, 715 Old Kings Highway, Wellfleet.  Other topics are on the agenda besides the lodging tax. Both Senator Cyr and Rep. Peake are proponents of the tax, and Rep. Peake sponsored this bill.

On Monday, June 12, at 3 PM, a public hearing will be held with the Financial Services Committee at Barnstable Town Hall.  If you are unable to testify in person, you can submit written testimony.  Here is the proposed bill and here are the Committee members. We will be attending that meeting.

On Tuesday, June 27, at 10:30 AM, a public hearing will be held in Room B-1 at the State House in Boston.  

On Friday, June 30, at 2 PM, we are meeting with State Senator Julian Cyr at our Brewster office.  Senator Cyr, who represents the Cape and Islands, came into office in 2016, and this is our first opportunity to meet with him. If you would like to attend, please email

We encourage you to write to these state legislators regarding their proposed bills:

Rep. Aaron MichlewitzBill H3454 An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-Term Rentals

Rep. Sarah Peake —  Bill H2642 An Act Providing for Local Aid Enhancement

Sen. Michael RodriguesBill S.1616 An Act Updating and Modernizing the Room Occupancy Excise

Sen. Eric LesserBill S.1553 An Act Relative to the Regulation and Taxation of Transient Accommodations in the Commonwealth

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan


  • Joan:

    A majority of renters of vacation homes on Cape Cod reside and pay taxes elsewhere in Massachusetts. They are not a bunch of unaffiliated foreigners and outsiders.

    Assuming the full tax would be in the 10-12% range, it’s likely to produce the following negative economic impacts:
    > Some owners will have to lower their rates.
    > Some visitors will have to team up together.
    > Some visitors will have to spend less on meals, recreation, and entertainment.
    > Some Mass. families will look for attractive vacation options in nearby states.

    Thus the rental tax will have a negative impact on local employment and economic vitality.

  • Joan,
    Regarding the Rental tax, has anyone started a petition to send to the State voicing disapproval? Also, what changed at the State that caused a renewed interest in this tax?

  • Please think more futuristically about this issue. Summer renters have habits quite different from Cape Cod citizens who vote here. More showers, more water, more automobile pollution, careless waste disposal habits, more noise, more beach detritus–all these effects and more are not universal of course, but after tourists go home, those who live here year round can see and feel an enormous change in the air, water, and noise levels.

    For all of us who love this area, this small extra tax will make a big and fair difference in our lives here. If we were not hear to provide the vacation housing families enjoy, paying our taxes and maintaining our towns, there would not be a lovely beach to enjoy for a week or two.

    Senator Julian Cyr and Representative Sarah Peake represent the majority opinion on the benefits and need for this tax. Please do not put yourself on the side of “damn the citizens who vote here” and “we are entitled to pay no taxes because we already pay property tax.”

      • I don’t know where you live but I pay more real estate tax for my residence than you by the tune of $800 because I don’t get a residency exemption. I don’t require snow removal, schools, etc. Tourism feeds your economy.Without that, you would be paying more tax. We hire full-time Cape residents to keep our property up. Also, it’s a falsehood that full-time residents are more “quiet” than renters. I’ve been to many a party from full-time residents. Maybe you can find out, when part-time residences sell their homes to full-time neighbors. Perhaps they should take your exemption away to garner more income for the stuff you benefit from 365 days a year first.

    • Maureen, I understand that permanent Cape residents can at times be frustrated by vacationers, but the Cape and Islands thrive on the very short vacation rental season. Where would we be without it?

      The average annual rent increase for Cape and Islands vacation homes is 2% and a nearly 12% increase is not what we would consider a ” small extra tax.” Many homeowners would be forced to absorb the tax, especially since many vacationing families return to the same rental home every summer.

      Yes, for two months, there is more of everything as a result of the influx of vacationers, but for the remaining ten months of the year, many of these homes are used very little, and the taxes that the rental homeowners pay go towards the schools, utilities, and town services that the year-round residents utilize.

  • IF that bill passes, it will be the last time I rent my home to the public. It is already too costly to keep the property up in a manner that is required to be competitive. Add more regulations (without the corporate tax rate which is far less than ours; in fact WE PAY MORE than full-time residents) and it’s ridiculous. We can’t charge more…it’s hard going up even $100 annually, even though costs keep going up including our taxes.

    On top of that, businesses will suffer because my house will be vacant, hopefully along with others. I also won’t be buying a $300 beach sticker, hiring landscapers, paying for rubbish removal, paying advertising costs, etc.

    Funny, Republican’s who want to create breaks for business, want to screw small time homeowners who can no longer afford to keep their homes without renting, or perhaps bought that second home planning to subsidize it with rent. And why again are part-time residents feeling more of a burden? Full-time residents can rent up to 60 days without this tax + plus get a tax break in their home in Barnstable?

    We are tired anyways….maybe we’ll flood the market with another house for sale.

  • I just read through the bill. It is draconian, a real worst-case scenario. I will attend the public hearing, and possibly the meeting with State Senator Julian Cyr, and urge all other homeowners to attend as well.

    • Annick hit the nail on the head! Draconian! I am out of State and cannot attend the public hearing but did write to Senator Cyr about it and will note a few concerns here; anyone attending can use this as they wish. Some towns are already burdened by lack of vacation rental housing, i.e. those in the National Seashore. Truro, where my property is, has 70% of the land in the Seashore. The few motels/hotels/B&B’s on the Outer Cape are always full during the high season, so our rentals are not in direct competition with them (which was the original excuse for this “tax” when it was first proposed many years ago. Truro already has a “rental registration” ordinance which “taxes” residents $200 per year so our paying guests can get a beach parking permit. Inspections were supposed to be part of this ordinance but I am unaware that any have ever been done. The proposed bill wants us (homeowners) to PAY for inspections–which will require some new Town employees? Also to be sure our insurance policies cover these “rentals”? tenants?the hosting platform? Plus the accounting provisions are onerous for those folks who do not do this as their primary business. Lots may give this over to a hosting platform where they accept credit cards and do the accounting, all for a very large fee. In the end, my long-standing clientele may change drastically; where I now accept only 2 persons in my rental, the Town “rental registration” allows me 5! And because I had to move when I retired, I now don’t get the break on this tax even though I’ve owned this property since 1980 and have lived in Truro since 1971. This whole bill needs to go back to the drawing board!