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Expedia : Priceline.com must pay Lombard for missed hotel taxes

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10/27/2016 | 03:09am CEST

Oct. 26--Lombard could get nearly $460,000 from six online travel agencies, including Expedia and Orbitz, after winning a lawsuit alleging the companies failed to pay the western suburb enough hotel taxes.

The case, originally filed in July 2013, accused Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Orbitz, Priceline.com and Travelocity of shortchanging 14 suburban villages and cities on their hotel or lodging taxes. Expedia now owns all of those brands except Priceline.com.

U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly ruled in June that Lombard was the only plaintiff with a valid claim against the travel companies.

There's still a chance for appeal, so Lombard isn't expecting a check in the immediate future, said Village Manager Scott Niehaus.

"It's a good first step," he said. "What would ultimately flow to the village would be less after legal fees and things are paid."

Niehaus did not know how much Lombard has spent on legal fees.

Lombard's 1,500 hotel rooms usually draw business from conferences, and sometimes get overflow from Chicago's hotels, Niehaus said.

"It's corporate, it's entertainment, it's shopping," he said. "This revenue stream to the village comes from people that don't live here. Instead of property tax from our citizens, it's someone from California or New York spending the night here. ... It's a nice revenue source."

Lombard's hotel tax is 5 percent, according to the complaint. That could mean between $30,000 and $40,000 a year for the village, Niehaus said.

This isn't the first time Expedia has battled these types of accusations. Dozens of lawsuits have been filed across the country over the past several years accusing Expedia of skimping on paying hotel taxes.

Expedia and lawyers representing the travel companies declined to comment.

According to the Oct. 19 judgment, Hotwire is responsible for $148,994. Also owing the village are Expedia, $87,330; Hotels.com, $110,003; Orbitz, $18,215; Priceline, $73,234; and Travelocity, $20,463.



(c)2016 the Chicago Tribune

Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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