Hotel owner’s letter outlines his stance on ‘value-added’ tax

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Editor’s note: The following is a letter penned by Chateau St. Denis Hotel owner Warren Reuther. He wrote the letter to the State of Louisiana, Department of Justice Civil Division (Attorney General’s Office) and provided a copy to publish as a letter to the editor in its entirety.

November 26, 2018

State of Louisiana Department of Justice Civil Division, P.O. Box 94005, Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9005

Dear Mr. Cassagne,

Thank you for taking my phone call and advising me that if the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau is not presenting all the facts correctly then we have a right to respond. In response to your opinion given to Ms. Arlene Gould with the Natchitoches Parish Tax Commission regarding the $9.95 “value-added package” and whether it is considered taxable for the Natchitoches Tourist Commission’s hotel occupancy tax, we would like to submit the following information as we feel it will change your opinion. First, the value-added package that the Chateau St. Denis Hotel charges its customers is not the same as the one that 5 & R Hotels, LLC charged,as it does NOT include “breakfast, drinks and coffee” which we agree would make it taxable.

The ‘value-added package” at the Chateau St. Denis instead includes only non-taxable items which makes it non-taxable as agreed to.not only by the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator when he audited the hotel shortly after it was open, but also by auditors for the City of New Orleans when we charged the same fee at our hotels there. Second, there are NO back taxes owed as the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator told us that since our value-added package did not include taxable items like the one 5 & R Hotels, LLC charged that we didn’t have to collect tax on it, so we didn’t.

We feel it would be unfair to force us to pay taxes on something that we didn’t collect because we were told we didn’t have to do so by the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator. Third, we eventually agreed to start collecting the tax on 7/1/18, but we also started including taxable items* in the value-added package. At that point it was agreed that we would collect and pay tax on the value-added package prospectively, which we have since then. The Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator continues to take the stance that we owe no back taxes since he opined that this fee wasn’t taxable until7/1/18 at which point we started collecting and paying taxes.

We feel that your office didn’t have this information when you opined on this matter in your letter dated October 22, 2019 and believe that this information will change your opinion,as it did for auditors for the City of New Orleans and the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator.

We therefore respectively request that you review the information above and give your opinion as to whether the Natchitoches Parish Tourism Commission must recover unpaid taxes from the Chateau St. Denis even though the hotel was told it did not have to collect said taxes by the Natchitoches Parish Tax Administrator. Please let us know if you have any further questions or would like to discuss or have a meeting.

Sincerely, Warren L. Reuther

Natchitoches Grand Hotel, LLC dba Chateau St. Denis Hotel

***The taxable item that we added is the Hot Breakfast***