Save Our Bed and Breakfasts sign now


The Dutchess County Legislature will be voting Wednesday April 14th on a home rule request to Albany for permission to raise the "overnight occupancy" tax on bed and breakfasts from 3\% to 4\% to gain an extra $365,000 in revenue.

Our county's chain hotels and motels might be able to pay this-- but this will be a mighty hit on bed-and breakfast owners around the county already struggling to pay their bills-- they deserve better.


Five county legislators voted against this tax hike in March-- perhaps with YOUR help out there at least 13 will vote no on the home rule request from Albany on Wednesday, April 14th.

At least we can gather supporters from around the county and momentum on this issue so that this tax hike can be repealed during budget negotiations later this fall-- but only if YOU folks out there come out of the woodwork to endorse this and speak out!

Contact our County Legislature now at 486-2100 or

And if you can make it to this Wednesday's meeting, be there to speak out during the public comment period at the beginning of the meeting at 4 pm on the sixth floor of our County Office Building at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie!

County Legislator Joel Tyner (D-Rhinebeck/Clinton)
324 Browns Pond Road Staatsburg, N.Y. 12580 (876-2488)

Again-- there's a better way-- TAX FAIRNESS!...See more on what tax fairness for our county would look like and how to get there below these three quotes from local B and B owners:

Maggie Myer, owner of The Whistle Wood Farm Bed and Breakfast on Pells Road in Rhinebeck: "It's the worst winter I've seen in twenty years, business-wise-- between the weather and the economy."

Veronica Mazur, owner of The Arbor Crest Bed and Breakfast on Reservoir Road in Staatsburg: "It brings a lot of business to all the businesses-- they go to restaurants, movies, supermarkets, stores, farmers' markets, movies, theatres, and everything else around here."

Douglas and Christine Mosley, owners of the Sleeping Beauty Bed and Breakfast on Chestnut Street in Rhinebeck:

"Bed-and-breakfast owners are a valuable asset for the countyas far as our knowledge of their respective areas andof local attractions and tourist sites. More often than not we practically plan our guests' stays for them since we know what to see and they don't!"

Douglas and Christine also wrote this letter on the topic December 4th (revising it April 9th):

We are writing this letter in response to the County Legislatures proposal to increase the Occupancy Tax from the current 3\% to 4\%. We urge you to look at the larger picture. On the surface it appears that a 1\% increase in the Occupancy Tax will mean little or nothing to the potential guest, and in some cases that will be true. We will attempt, however, to illustrate what this could mean for us in the Bed and Breakfast , Small Inn business in Dutchess County.

1. Taxation of the Guest

While there is no conclusive proof indicating a bed tax increase will discourage potential guest reservations, there is growing concern from our perspective that taxing the tourist is an acceptable means of correcting a budget shortfall. In other words, you are "biting the hand that feeds you."

2. Room Rate

Generally speaking, room rates are determined by a few market factors, (amenities, location of the inn, competitors rates), but are mainly driven by the innkeepers personal financial situation. The cost of maintenance of the property, employment of outside staff, guest expenses such as food, linens, and the constant upkeep of the interior of the inn are all taken into consideration when determining a fair rate, but what happens when that fair rental price of the room suddenly becomes much more expensive than the guest originally thought because we have to add a 12.25\% tax onto it? For example, when a guest inquires about a room rate and is told it is $150. per night, plus tax, the guest will ultimately pay $168.37 for that room. If there is a concern on the guests part that the total rate is too high, then how do we as innkeepers deal with that? The obvious answer is that we may have to keep our rate lower than perhaps we wanted or needed to just to fill our rooms, resulting then, in a lower tax revenue for the county.

3. Dutchess County as a Destination

Neighboring counties within our Valley are free of the Occupancy Tax burden to their guests. How, then, do we continue to draw tourists to our county when they can stay in Ulster or Columbia Counties and still enjoy all the historic sites, restaurants, etc., here in Dutchess? We feel we shouldnt have to compete for tourist dollars with our neighbors to the north and west. It is our observation living and working here in Rhinebeck that the day-tripping population has increased substantially over the past year. Some of our inns are reporting a drop in occupancy rates in the last 12 months.

4. Impact of Tax Increase on Bed and Breakfasts, Small Inns

If we can argue the possibility that an increase in taxes could discourage tourism in our county, then we can explore the impact that would have on both the small inn and the large chain hotel. Using the Holiday Inn as a nationwide chain example, a 10\% to 20\% decrease in occupancy for that corporation has far less economic impact than it would have on the small inn or B&B, where an overall decrease in occupancy could spell disaster. With many small inns, economic viability is a constant concern. Not only do you have the owners investing substantial amounts of money into their properties, as in our case with the restoration of an historic home, but you have an extraordinary personal time investment also, an investment that is not part of the daily operations of a large hotel.

5. Surrounding Tourist Areas

Latest reports show that driving distances do play a role in determining where a guest will stay, and our statistics indicate most of our guests come from other parts of New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Two examples come to mind: the Saratoga Springs area and the Stockbridge area, where the taxes on a guests stay arent as high as ours will be. These places have long been tourist destinations and are just as accessible by car from the tri-state area as Dutchess County is, and they have just as many, if not more, attractions to offer than we do. (i.e., New York City Ballet and the Boston Pops to name just two). The Hudson Valley, more specifically Dutchess County, is just beginning to prosper as a vacation spot and we see the imposition of this tax on our guests as a possible deterrent to increased overnight stays.

In conclusion, from a personal perspective, we have worked long and hard, as many of our fellow innkeepers have, to not only provide exceptional lodging to our guests, but to build a business that we can be proud of. The operation of a small bed and breakfast is inherently full of daily challenges and problems; one minute youre juggling your family life and the next youre planning your guests itinerary for the day. From food service to lawn mowing, from housekeeper to gracious host, the innkeeper does it all, and at the end of the day is still the best ambassador this county could ask for.






The fact is that the vast majority of bed-and-breakfast owners make much less than $200,000 a year-- Assemblymen Kevin Cahill and Joel Miller have both recently recognized the inequities of our tax system.

A progressive Fair Tax Plan for our county, as laid out below, could easily cut our county property tax AND find the revenue to make a tax hike on struggling bed-and-breakfast owners unnecessary!

It's gotten so bad that we here in New York now actually pay the highest property taxes in the country-- 72\% higher than the national average, according to the Citizens Budget Commission...

Yet more and more important government programs seem to be cut back further and further each year.

There's a better way-- simply, services should be funded more from income taxes than property taxes!

Our county's leaders should make this clear to state and federal representatives in Albany and Washington.

Our county could and should also enact a very small county-level income tax surcharge on the wealthy to reverse the 9.9\% county property tax hike on all of us passed in December, at the very least (and let's not forget the 23\% hike in our county's sales tax recently-- together with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts to our county's Office for the Aging, Veterans' Services, Youth Bureau, and Traffic Safety-- recall

The newspaper Newsday and many business leaders have supported a similar Fair Tax Plan for Nassau County, as well as the Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, and many in Monroe County too-- as a matter of fact, Rockland County's Budget and Finance Committee is getting a presentation on such a Fair Tax Plan this month.

This could be funded through a mere 1.2\% county-level income tax surcharge-- only levied on money made over and above $200,000-- for example, someone making $210,000 a year would pay just an extra 33 cents a day.

Instead of asking Albany for permission to hike raise the county sales tax 23\% (as our County Legislature recently did, unfortunately), we should ask for permission for a Fair Tax Plan here in Dutchess County.

This would be needed relief for small business owners, who create three out of every four new jobs. The fact is 85\% of them make less than $100,000 a year-- it's property taxes, not income taxes, that are killing them.

Finally, we middle income New Yorkers now literally pay about twice the state and local taxes that the richest 1\% pay as a percentage of annual income because of the unfair shift of the tax burden that's gone on over the last few decades-- New York's top tax rate has been cut in half since Rockefeller in the early 70's.

Three independent surveys of thousands of people all over the state have shown the vast majority-- two-thirds to three-quarters of New Yorkers want this vicious and destructive cycle of skyrocketing local taxes and budget cuts ended (Zogby, Peter Hart, and Global Strategies Group).

More info: / (Nassau County Plan), (Dutchess County data), (Tompkins County) (Monroe County),, ,\%2520pr.pdf+New+York+State+and+Local+Taxes+Institute+on+Taxation+and+Economic+Policy&hl=en&ie=UTF-8


Recall what tax fairness for our county and state would look like-- check out if you haven't already (over 100 groups across the state on board that coalition!)...And call Governor/NYS Legislature toll-free to stop local tax and fee hikes and massive budget cuts at (877) 255-9417-- call Congress, too, at (800) 839-5276!


"Is It Time for a Progressive Corporate Income Tax?" by Scott Klinger

"More than 117 million people, representing 56 percent of the American labor force, work for businesses that employ less than 500 people...

Why then should the federal government add to the woes of small business owners by taxing the largest businesses at rates that are in many cases less than half the rate paid by small businesses? Most small businesses are sole proprietorships and, as such, the owners pay taxes at their personal tax rate. A married small business owner whose store made between $56,800 and $114,650 in profits in 2003 would have been taxed at a 25 percent rate. A more successful small businessperson, one whose business generated more than $312,000 in profits, would pay tax at a 35 percent rate.

In contrast, the federal corporate tax rate is 35 percent, but few large corporations pay anywhere near that amount. Armies of corporate lobbyists, tax attorneys, and accountants have won new laws and mined the existing tax code for clever deductions and tax credits that have dramatically reduced the tax rate of America's largest businesses. The nation's corporations were estimated to pay less than 15 percent of their net income in federal taxes last year, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a widely respected non-partisan research organization...

As federal budget writers struggle with exploding deficits by cutting programs that serve human needs, corporate subsidies continue to grow unabated - more than $125 billion each year - $42 billion more than the federal government spent on education in 2003..."


"Free Riders" by Lee Drutman

"Taxes," wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes, "are what we pay for a civilized society." But corporate executives, it seems, did not get the memo. As the recently released study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) shows, most corporations not only don't pay their fair share of taxes-they don't pay anything at all. Among foreign companies operating in the U.S., almost three-quarters (73.3 percent) paid absolutely nothing in taxes in 2000, and 88.5 percent paid less than five percent of their U.S. earnings. Among U.S.-based corporations, more than three in five (63 percent) paid nothing. And a remarkable 93.9 percent owed less than five percent of their income. It's a rate that's been slowly growing since 1996, the report found..."


"Shell Game" by Chuck Collins

Tax Shift #1: From Federal Taxes to State Taxes. Since 2002, state governments have closed $200 billion in budget gaps by raising taxes and cutting services. During those same years, newly enacted federal tax cuts delivered about as much money-$197.3 billion-in new tax breaks for the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans (households making more than $337,000 a year). In essence, Bush chose to force tax hikes in the states in order to give tax breaks to multi-millionaires.

Tax Shift #2: From Progressive to Regressive Taxes. President Bush has focused on reducing income tax rates. But 71 percent of us pay more in payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare) than in income taxes. Payroll taxes are regressive: high-income people pay a lower tax rate than low-income people. The opposite is true of progressive taxes, such as federal income, corporate and estate taxes. Since the early '60s, this trio of progressive tax rates has dropped precipitously. But the regressive payroll tax rate has risen.

Tax Shift #3: From Taxes on Wealth to Taxes on Work. Politicians talk about the virtues of hard work, but their tax policies speak otherwise. Between 1980 and today, the main tax rate on work income-the payroll tax-has jumped 25 percent. In the same period, top tax rates on investment income and large inheritances have been cut between 31 and 79 percent.

This tax shift from wealth to work means that a person who derives millions of dollars in dividend income solely from his investments now pays a marginal tax rate of just 15 percent. Compare that with a schoolteacher with an adjusted gross income over $28,400 who pays a payroll tax rate of 15.3 percent, plus a marginal income tax rate of 28 percent, for a total marginal rate of more than 43 percent!

Tax Shift #4: From Corporations to Individuals. Corporate lobbyists complain that the United States overtaxes business. But since 1962, the share of federal revenues contributed by corporations has declined by two-thirds, while the share contributed by individuals and unincorporated small business has risen 17 percent.

Tax Shift #5: From Current Taxpayers to Future Generations. President Bush sold his tax cuts using the line, "It's your money." He left out the other side of the story: "It's your children's debt." According to Citizens for Tax Justice, between 2002 and 2007, Bush's fiscal policies will impose $13,000 in additional debt on each man, woman and child in America.

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