Staff Sgt. Clinton Atkins
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
8/17/2012 – JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) — During a time of increasing Department of Defense budget constraints, the Air Force continuously looks for innovative solutions that save money and positively impacts the mission.
Air Education and Training Command’s Financial Management office said Air Force travelers could help save millions of dollars by taking advantage of tax exemptions while using the government traveler’s card at hotels in select states.
Those traveling to Alaska, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas or Wisconsin and staying in off-base lodging are exempt from paying state sales tax for the hotel room. Visit https://smartpay.gsa.gov/about-gsa-smartpay/tax-information/state-response-letter for a list states hyperlinked to more information about the tax exemptions.
Temporary duty budgets were significantly reduced across the command and have increased the use of online meeting capabilities such as Defense Connect Online and video teleconferences to save money. However, there are times when using Web-based capabilities or video teleconferences are not the best methods for conducting the meeting.
“When that’s the case and TDYs are required to fulfill the mission, we can do more to stretch our dollars,” said Judy Griffis, a financial specialist with AETC.
“The resources we have to accomplish our … mission are declining,” said Col. Charles Fiquett, director of AETC Financial Management. “As a result … we’re looking at every Airman at every level to do whatever they can to save dollars while becoming more efficient. The Cost Conscious Culture initiative is designed to do exactly that — sustain excellence while responding to declining resources.”
While most formal training classes require students to be billeted on installations, that’s not always the case.
“In just one month, AETC’s TDY to school program paid more than $3,200 in sales taxes on hotel rooms — that’s more than $40,000 a year,” Griffis said.
The financial specialist said the cost in hotel taxes doesn’t account for frequent travelers. The potential overall savings is even greater when considering this.
For a TDY to San Antonio, there are three taxes that are added on to room rates: 6 percent room state tax, 9 percent room city tax and 1.75 percent county tax. Since the lodging rate for San Antonio is $106 per day, travelers are potentially unnecessarily paying $17.76 in taxes daily for their hotel room. Those kinds of expenditures can add up quickly.
Griffis gave a few ?
– When going to a location that offers the state tax exemption, use it.
– Print out the form from the website or, better yet, embed the form into your orders, just like you embed your receipts into your voucher. This will give you access to the form from anywhere.
– Give the tax exempt form to the hotel clerk when you check-in.
– Last but not least, support a cost conscious culture.
Fiquett said it takes a total force effort to get everyone to think deliberately about saving money.