Boeing Frontiers
August 2003
Volume 02, Issue 04
Top Stories Inside Quick Takes Site Tools
New and Notable

Hotel tax exemption a pleasant surprise


Mike Martchink It could have been just another $424,000 paid by Boeing in hotel taxes, without a backward glance. Instead, the money is back in Boeing coffers—because of a Boeing employee who asked a simple question.

The story doesn't have an ending yet, since the $424,000 is only the beginning. The savings are likely to continue through continued tax exemptions and recovery.

The tale starts with Mike Martchink, a recent transplant from Wichita, Kan., to Shared Services Travel Accounting in St. Louis. He brought 23 years of experience in general accounting, credit analysis and sales tax administration to his new group. As a program administrator now working GE MasterCard issues and their interaction with the Travel Manager expense-reporting system, Martchink took a routine call on credit limits. While answering that question, he learned that several people from an Integrated Defense Systems organization were working in another state, renting hotel rooms for a long duration. He then asked, "Have you submitted the tax-exemption forms?"

"What forms?" was the reply.

Travelers have options

Extended-stay hotels, such as Residence Inn or Homewood Suites, often automatically offer tax relief to travelers who stay 30 consecutive days—if the state allows for it, said Lisa Bliss, Boeing Travel Management Co. hotel program manager. Travelers sometimes need to remind full service-type hotels of the exemption. Bliss suggests extended-stay travelers consider options such as Oakwood Corporate Housing—which still can be arranged through Boeing Travel—because the apartment communities have a different charge structure for stays of 30 or more nights.

Martchink explained that most states provide businesses the opportunity to avoid paying some or all of the lodging taxes if travelers rent a room for more than 30 consecutive days. There are many ways states administer this tax exemption. Often they call for the traveler to provide a state tax form upon check-in. The applicable taxes are deducted from the bill, so the traveler never pays. "If you can avoid spending that tax, that's money in your organization's pocketbook," he said.

As most travelers can attest, hotel taxes add up. "Taxes can turn even a $39 hotel bill into $65 quickly," explained Michael Welter, assistant director, World Headquarters Tax Department. When the program people came to him upon advice of Martchink, he helped direct them to the appropriate claim forms. As a result, the company was able through refunds and tax avoidance to save $424,000.

"There are not a lot of situations where employees stay 30 consecutive days, but when it occurs, we should take advantage of the tax exemptions that exist," Welter said. His office is also interested in "tag team" assignments—where one employee takes over for another—since some states also allow a corporation to be relieved from lodging taxes if the room it buys is filled 30 or more consecutive days.

Travel Accounting is at work writing the next chapter of the tax-relief quest. "We see this as only the beginning and imagine there are many more opportunities," said Jim Surber, director. They're working to extract data on length of hotel stays from Travel Manager and will work with the Tax Department to determine if they can request taxes retroactively (again, it varies by state).

"With the new Travel Manager Web-based system, we can quickly slice and dice data like a Vegematic" and provide customers the documentation needed, Martchink said. "With the paper system, we can't do anything like this to help organizations save money."

Professional cheers for Frontiers

February 2003 coverBoeing Frontiers recently won several awards from two distinguished business communications competitions.

The magazine won two Silver Quill Awards of Excellence, the higher of two levels of regional awards sponsored by the International Association of Business Communicators. The magazine's staff was recognized in the four-color magazine category, and art director Jamey Fry won in the publication design category.

In addition, the magazine won 12 APEX 2003 awards, including one Grand Award for design and illustration for the February 2003 cover (shown). Frontiers won APEX Awards of Excellence in the Magazines & Journals category for printed four-color magazine; writing; design and layout; and new magazine. In the Writing category, Frontiers won Awards of Excellence for feature writing and personality profiles. Finally, the magazine won five Awards of Excellence in the Design category, for design and layout; illustration and typography; contents page; spreads; and photographs.

APEX is the Annual Awards for Publication Excellence Competition. It is open to communicators in corporate, nonprofit and independent settings. APEX is sponsored by the editors of Writing That Works, the newsletter for communicators who write, edit and manage business publications.


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