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Judge in San Antonio decides online travel companies must pay $55M in hotel occupancy taxes

SAN ANTONIO – A federal judge in Texas has decided 11 online travel companies must pay $55 million to cities in a dispute over hotel occupancy taxes.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio on Tuesday set total damages and interest. Garcia had requested that both sides reach an agreement on the amount owed as he prepares to enter his final ruling in the 2006 class-action case.

Jurors in 2009 ordered $20 million in back taxes to be paid to more than 170 Texas cities.

The lawsuit to recover tourism tax revenue named online travel groups including Expedia Inc., Hotwire Inc., Hotels.com, Priceline.com and Orbitz Worldwide Inc.. The companies maintain all required taxes had been paid.

A statement Tuesday from the Travel Technology Association says the companies plan to continue their appeals.