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Travel sites appealing Hawaii’s $70M fine

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Popular travel sites are appealing a state court decision to fine them $70 million for unpaid taxes.

A state tax appeal court ruled this week that online travel companies including Orbitz Worldwide Inc., Priceline.com Inc., Sabre Inc.’s Travelocity, and Expedia Inc. have been skirting Hawaii’s general excise tax for years.

The state says the companies have been making billions in revenue but owe $158 million in unpaid taxes and interest.

The court slapped the companies with the $70 million fine.

Robin Reck from the Travel Technology Association, which represents the online travel companies, says they are appealing the decision.

She says the court is single-handedly undermining the Hawaii tourism industry by driving up the cost of travel services and telling visitors to go to Mexico or the Caribbean instead.

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