Ever since COVID-19 hit, our 5 year, 50 state road trip plans have ground to a virtual halt. Since mid-March, we’ve gone from moving every 5-7 days to staying 4-6 weeks at a time in the same place.
Much of that time has been spent in Airbnbs, but we started the lockdown in March with a 4 week stay in a Candlewood Suites and recently finished up a 33 night stay at a Residence Inn on the outskirts of Cincinnati. Both of these brands include a full kitchen in every suite and we’d booked a 1 bedroom suite in both places to have more space.
I’d booked that latter stay because Marriott was charging a decent rate ($79 per night before taxes) due to the length of stay, but after booking it I realized that we might be able to save even more. That’s because some states exempt you from paying taxes on hotel stays when staying 30+ nights consecutively at the same property.
I became aware of this policy a couple of years ago because Texas is one of the states that doesn’t charge tax when staying 30+ nights. We weren’t able to take advantage of that at the time because even though we spent 10 weeks in Texas, we didn’t spend longer than 2 weeks in the same location. A lot of that time was spent in Hyatt Places because there are loads of category 1 properties in Texas which meant they only cost 5,000 points per night, or we were able to get low paid rates.
Fast forward to this year. We were due to spend all year out west, with my parents flying in from the UK in March to join us on the road trip for 7 weeks so we could hit up all of Utah’s National Parks, the Grand Canyon, some of Colorado and more. We decided to cancel their trip literally hours before a travel ban went into place that would’ve prevented them from flying over anyway.
We subsequently decided to head back east for the rest of this year so that we can be closer to my wife’s family. There’s no great hurry though, so we’ve tended to stay a month or more in each place to semi-shelter in place and not have to regularly check in and out of hotels and Airbnbs.
We picked a month-long stay in Cincinnati on the way through because we have good friends who live there that we try to see every year or two, plus it’s home to Skyline Chili which we need in our lives just as frequently. I know you can get Skyline Chili in a can or as a frozen meal from Kroger stores around the country, but it’s not the same.
As I mentioned earlier, we booked a stay at a Residence Inn which cost $79 per night. The taxes added almost $10 per night to that cost:
- State Occupancy Tax @ 6.5% = $5.14 per night
- County Tax @ 3% = $2.37 per night
- City Tax @ 3% = $2.37 per night
- Total = $9.88 per night
At $9.88 per night, that meant we were due to pay a total of $326.04 in taxes seeing as we were staying 33 nights. It was after booking the stay that I realized we might not have to pay that amount after all due to some states not charging taxes on stays of 30+ nights.
I therefore did a search online and most of Google’s search results focused on the policy in Texas. For example, per this site:
When does a guest qualify for the permanent resident exemption?
If in advance or upon check-in, the guest provides written notice of intent to occupy a guest room for 30 days or longer, no tax will be due for any part of the guest’s stay if the guest stays for more than 30 days. A signed registration card indicating a guest’s intent to occupy a room for 30 days or longer is sufficient evidence. A written reservation or confirmation of a reservation that indicates the stay will be more than 30 days is also sufficient notice.
In addition, a hotel is permitted to honor the 30-day permanent resident exemption even in cities with a 30-day check out requirement if the guest immediately checks back in so that the stay remains continuous to meet state law requirements.
As a side note, that latter exemption could also be useful because some hotel chains don’t award points on stays of more than 30 days. You could therefore book at least two or more consecutive stays that don’t exceed 30 days and be eligible for earning points while still being exempt from paying hotel taxes.
That didn’t help me with our stay in Cincinnati though because Porkopolis obviously isn’t in Texas. I therefore adjusted my search to include ‘Ohio’ and the results were a little more pertinent, but not definitively. The top search result was this PDF for an Embassy Suites which confirmed that when staying at their property for 30+ nights we wouldn’t have to pay taxes, but that property was in Columbus rather than Cincinnati. A PDF for Montgomery County stated something similar, as did a document from 2014 for Hamilton County.
Our Residence Inn was in West Chester though which is located in Butler County. I didn’t find anything specifically for that location or anything that was valid statewide in Ohio, so I figured my best option was to ask the hotel directly.
We’ve been trying to reduce our face-to-face contact with people over the last few months (not too hard for me as an introvert), so I sent a message late one night to the property through the Marriott app asking if the taxes would be waived. They replied the next day confirming that they would be, so that was great news.
It wasn’t quite that easy though. Despite booking our stay as one 33 night chunk, the Residence Inn took payment for our stay week by week. When checking our bill, the taxes were all still on there.
That meant contacting the front desk again. They confirmed that we were still exempt from paying tax, but that we’d need to stop by the front desk once we’d actually stayed 30 days. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just set a reminder for themselves to process the refund rather than needing me to remind them in person, but for more than $325 it was something I was willing to do.
On day 31 of our stay, I therefore stopped by the front desk to remind them about the tax being waived and was assured it would be done. In the early hours of the morning that we were due to check out, I received an email from the Residence Inn containing our final bill which still showed the tax being charged for the entire stay.
That meant another trip to the front desk, but because it was 3am there wasn’t anything they could do, but they assured me that their General Manager would be arriving in a few hours and they’d sort out the taxes. Thankfully that seemed to do the trick because when checking out later that morning, the taxes had indeed been removed.
The line items were a little confusing though. It initially looked like they’d only refunded taxes for 30 nights of our 33 night stay, but upon closer inspection I realized the taxes hadn’t actually been charged for days 31-33, so everything was correct.
That means we saved a total of $326.04 in taxes on our stay, but it got better than that. Knowing back in May that we had this stay coming up, I took advantage of the 20% discount Marriott offered when buying their gift cards. I paid for our stay using these gift cards, so that saved us an extra $521.40.
As a result, our stay which should’ve cost $2,933.04 only cost us $2,085.60, or $63.20 per night – not bad for a 1 bedroom suite with a full kitchen.
In some states (such as Texas and Ohio), you can have your taxes waived when staying 30+ consecutive nights at the same property on a paid stay. This means your savings will usually be $300 or more (assuming taxes of at least $10 per night), so it’s definitely something worth exploring if you’ll be booking an extended stay somewhere in the US.