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Internet travel firms owe state $170M

Online travel companies are appealing $170 million in assessments from the state in unpaid hotel occupancy taxes, but the Attorney General’s Office says it intends to collect from several online travel companies including Orbitz, Travelocity and Hotwire.com.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the companies purchase hotel rooms at wholesale rates but sell them at markups. "The companies collect amounts sufficient to pay these taxes — based on the retail amount charged to the consumer — from the renters of the hotel rooms, but then fail to remit the full amount owned to Hawaii," according to a news release issued yesterday. The state says the taxes are owed for tax years 1999 to 2010.

Build a rain garden

The community group Hui o Ko‘olaupoko is seeking volunteers to help build a demonstration “rain garden” at He‘eia State Park tomorrow beginning at 9:30 a.m. Rain gardens collect irrigation water from roofs. Volunteers are asked to RSVP with Kristen at 381-7202. Volunteers should wear closed-toed shoes, a hat and sunscreen, and bring a water bottle, gloves and a shovel.

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