Guam - Following the discovery that one-fourth of the island's hotels and motels were not paying its taxes, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz has called for an independent audit of all hotels operating on Guam. It's an issue not only raising red flags with lawmakers, but the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association as well.

GHRA strives to promote the highest standard of services and quality in hotels operating on Guam. And according to GHRA president Mary Rhodes recent concern raised by Vice Speaker Cruz is definitely   something the organization is taking seriously, especially considering that 10 out of 39 hotels and motels were found to be delinquent - $2.1 million to be exact- in paying its hotel occupancy taxes.

Rhodes said, "We want to make sure that everybody is following law, but also it is a fair and competitive landscape. It not only affects the hotels that are competing but remember with the Hotel Occupancy Tax goes, we do have a bond that we have to pay which pays for our infrastructure and also with the museum coming up, it pays into GVB budget which is their only source of income when it comes to marketing the island."

Cruz had noted that the $2.1 million figure could actually be more since the Hotel Occupancy Tax is collected on an honor system and the process by which taxes are assessed, collected and verified is unclear. Also unclear is whether any of GHRA members are part of this delinquent list as the organization only collects the information reported by the hotels and does not have a proof of payment system as that responsibility lies with Rev & Tax.

"Initially my reaction is Rev and Tax may have a payment schedule for some of these hotels and motels that have actually been delinquent for sometime, so I think it's really important that Rev and Tax look at that," she added.

Only 24 hotels are members of GHRA, whereas motels are not counted as members. And while she is concerned about the issue, she adds hotels whether members of GHRA or not, are not the only business entity who owe the government money. Said Rhodes, "Obviously his concern is warranted and we need to make sure we get the information out there and we follow up because we want to make sure everybody is paying their fair share and their taxes."

You can view the monthly reporting information by GHRA members on Meanwhile, according to the vice speaker's office, meetings have since taken place with Rev & Tax and are working on compiling all the information before moving forward with the audit.