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McAllen, Brownsville, Harlingen have best showings in local sales taxes generated during November 2018, reports Texas Comptroller

Featured, from left: Larry Edward Safir, Media Healthcare Executive, DHR Health; Jericka Gaskamp, Liaison, Renaissance Cancer Foundation; Elizabet Jondreau, Interim Director, DHR Health Advanced Care Center; Marissa Castañeda, Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, DHR Health; S. David Deanda Jr., President, Lone Star National Bank; Edna De Saro, Senior Vice President, Marketing Director, Lone Star National Bank; Janet Vackar, Co-Owner, Bert Ogden Auto Group; and Robert C. Vackar, Co-Owner, Bert Ogden Auto Group. These South Texas leaders participated in DHR Health’s Renaissance Cancer Foundation Gala on Sunday, December 2, 2018 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, where $318,791 was raised to support patients throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The Renaissance Cancer Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) tax exempt non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide support for cancer patients in the Rio Grande Valley. Since 2008, the Renaissance Cancer Foundation has dedicated its efforts to building community awareness while providing cancer education, emotional support, financial assistance and guidance for underserved patients. The funds raised at the 2018 Gala will allow the Foundation to fulfill their mission of providing local patients with services to help them during their cancer journey.

Photograph By GERARD GARMENDIA, DHR HEALTH

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McAllen, Brownsville, Harlingen have best showings in local sales taxes generated during November 2018, reports Texas Comptroller

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen finished first, second and third, respectively, in the amount of local sales taxes generated by their retail economies during November, when the holiday season began, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Edinburg, Pharr, Mission and Weslaco, in that order, rounded out the list of local retail taxes produced for the same monthly period, according to the state agency.

All figures for Valley communities which collect a local sales tax on qualified retail purchases, along with every other governmental entity in Texas which do the same, are provided by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Under the reporting system maintained online by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, for all public entities which generate local sales taxes, monthly totals for individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts begin in November of each year.

The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825).

The amount of local sales taxes collected helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends.

In terms of local sales tax revenue for November 2018, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $5,504,182.36, while Brownsville was second ($3,151,659.40), Harlingen was third ($1,885,631.46), and Edinburg was fourth ($1,773,568.23).

The findings for November 2018 are based on sales made by businesses that report tax monthly.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Wednesday, January 9, 2019, said he will send cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts $734.7 million in local sales tax allocations from retail activities generated in November 2018 – 3.6 percent more than in November 2017.

The local sales tax data is among the latest economic barometers featured in a detailed summary provided by the state comptroller’s office.

Among its many duties, the Texas Comptroller’s office is the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer.

Based on the amount of sales taxes generated, according to the state comptroller’s office, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures:

November 2018 compared with November 2017

• McAllen: $5,504,182.36, up 9.84 percent compared with November 2017 ($5,010,846.63);
• Brownsville: $3,151,659.40, up 3.27 percent compared with November 2017 ($3,051,584.55);
• Harlingen: $1,885,631.46, down 1.89 percent compared with November 2017 ($1,922,065.33);
• Edinburg: $1,773,568.23, up 7.32 percent compared with November 2017 ($1,652,449.46);
• Pharr: $1,541,428.94, up 2.62 percent compared with November 2017 ($1,502,049.88);
• Mission: $1,210,534.03, up 1.19 percent compared with November 2017 ($1,196,273.98); and
• Weslaco: $950,400.50, down 1.68 percent compared with November 2017 ($966,664.28).

For details on November 2018 local sales taxes generated by individual cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose districts, visit the Comptroller’s Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports.

RIO GRANDE VALLEY’S AIRBNB HOSTS EARNED $11.5 MILLION IN 2018

Airbnb, the world’s leading community driven hospitality company, announced on Thursday, January 10, 2019, that its Rio Grande host community earned a combined $11.5 million in supplemental income while welcoming approximately 80,000 guest arrivals to the region in 2018.

Specifically, Cameron County hosts earned $10.5 million in income through Airbnb and welcomed 70,000 guests, while Hidalgo County hosts earned $947,000 in income through Airbnb and welcomed 9,500 guests. The rest was accounted for by Willacy County and Starr County.

This comes as Texans increasingly embrace the home sharing platform as an opportunity to earn supplemental income and make ends meet. There are now more than 30,000 Texas residents who share their homes as Airbnb hosts, with the typical Rio Grande host typically earning about $9,400 annually in supplemental income.

Yet, statewide data indicates that Airbnb and its host community appear to be complementing – rather than competing with – the Texas and Rio Grande hotel industry. According to the most recent state-commissioned Texas Tourism Report, Texas hotels are experiencing robust growth in overall development, nights sold, occupancy rate, and revenue – in parallel with short-term rental growth.

This suggests that Airbnb is opening up the region to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to be together under one roof.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong through healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetize their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs.

Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to 5+ million unique places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. With Experiences, Airbnb offers unprecedented access to local communities and interests through 15,000 unique, handcrafted activities run by hosts across 1,000+ cities around the world. Airbnb’s people-to-people platform benefits all its stakeholders, including hosts, guests, employees and the communities in which it operates.

In urban areas of Texas, the home sharing community provides significant value through expanded lodging capacity when hotels sell out during big events – such as football games, festivals and conferences. Though Airbnb recently announced that the platform is experiencing its most robust growth within Texas’ rural counties, offering economic opportunity and new revenue to areas where traditional hotels are limited.

In addition to the new income going into the pockets of Texas Airbnb hosts, the state is generating new revenue through a tax agreement with the Texas Comptroller’s Office announced in 2017 that allows Airbnb to collect and remit the Texas state occupancy tax on behalf of its hosts. Earlier this year, Airbnb announced that it delivered $15.3 million in tax revenue to the state in the first year of that tax agreement, nearly doubling the initial projections.

Airbnb also launched Experiences throughout South Texas in 2018, offering handcrafted activities led by local experts. Airbnb Experiences are creating new economic opportunities for Texans by allowing them to unlock their talents and interests and make money from them, catering to the hundreds of millions of people that use Airbnb’s platform to discover unique and authentic travel experiences. Experiences is expected to expand further in Texas in 2019, and the South Texas Experiences currently available can be found here.

Airbnb recently released a report announcing the #1 most wish-listed (i.e. popular or desired) Airbnb listings in the top 50 home sharing markets in Texas, including the top homes in Brownsville, Harlingen and more.

TEXAS COMPTROLLER GLEN HEGAR RELEASES BIENNIAL REVENUE ESTIMATE

On Monday, January 7, 2019, Hegar released the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE), showing the state is projected to have approximately $119.1 billion in revenue available for general-purpose spending during the 2020-21 biennium.

The revenue estimate represents an 8.1 percent increase from the amounts available for the 2018-19 biennium. Hegar warned, however, that substantial supplemental appropriations could affect revenue available for the 2020-21 biennium.

“Despite this projected revenue growth, the Legislature will again face some difficult choices in balancing the budget,” Hegar said. “The most pressing and costly budget drivers for the upcoming session include a potentially large boost in education spending to reduce the property tax burden and reform school finance.”

The $119.1 billion available for general-purpose spending includes 2020-21 collections of $121.5 billion in General Revenue-Related (GR-R) funds as well as $4.2 billion in balances from the 2018-19 biennium. The total reflects $6.3 billion reserved from oil and natural gas taxes for 2020-21 transfers to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) and the State Highway Fund (SHF) and $211 million set aside to cover a shortfall in the state’s original prepaid tuition plan, the Texas Tomorrow Fund.

Sales tax collections make up the state’s largest source (55 percent) of GR-R revenues in 2020-21. The BRE projects sales tax revenues will increase 9.5 percent from the 2018-19 biennium to nearly $66.3 billion for the 2020-21 biennium. That is after $5 billion is allocated to the SHF.

Other significant sources of revenue in 2020-21 include:

• Motor vehicle-related taxes, including sales, rental and manufactured housing taxes, which are expected to reach $9.8 billion, up 0.4 percent from 2018-19;

• Oil production tax collections, which are projected to generate $7.4 billion, up 11.1 percent from 2018-19;

• Natural gas tax collections, which are expected to raise $3.3 billion, up 9.6 percent from 2018-19; and

• State franchise tax revenue for all funds, estimated at $8.2 billion, up 8.0 percent from 2018-19.

The ESF (the state’s “Rainy Day Fund”) currently contains about $12.5 billion, not counting currently outstanding spending authority. Absent any legislative appropriations, the ESF balance is expected to be $15.4 billion at the end of the 2020-21 biennium.

“For the 2020-21 biennium, we remain cautiously optimistic but recognize we’re unlikely to see continued revenue growth at the unusually strong rates we’ve seen in recent months,” Hegar said. “Oil prices have dropped sharply since October, financial markets have demonstrated increased volatility, interest rates have been rising and U.S. trade policy remains uncertain. And as the nation’s leading export state, the Texas economy in particular is exposed to potential reductions in international trade.

“Because of this heightened uncertainty, this revenue estimate is based on a projection of continued but slowing expansion of the Texas economy,” Hegar said.

State revenue from all sources and for all purposes is expected to reach $265.6 billion for the 2020-21 biennium, including approximately $88.7 billion in federal receipts, along with other income and revenues dedicated for specific purposes and therefore unavailable for general-purpose spending.

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Benjamin Breit, Chris Bryan and Kevin Lyons contributed to this article. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories which affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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