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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - An appeals court has denied a rehearing in a dispute over how much tax online travel companies must pay on hotel rooms booked in Florida. But the court did pass the case directly to the Florida Supreme Court.

The 1st District Court of Appeals decided Tuesday. It had ruled in a split decision that taxes are due on what the companies pay to the hotels but not on the full amount charged to customers.

Seventeen of Florida's 67 counties sued last year. They argued online firms should be taxed on the markup they charge their customers that runs into the millions statewide and nationally.

The online companies - including Expedia and Travelocity - contend the markup should not be taxed because it pays for their services rather than hotel rent.