Common Ground profiles members of opposing parties who are working together to advance issues important to hoteliers.
by SEAN GROSSNICKLE
Since 2015, hoteliers in Georgia have been required to remit a $5 flat rate to the state for every night a room is booked. It is common for states to levy a lodging tax, yet Georgia is the only one to impose a flat dollar-based tax statewide. In addition to this fixed-rate fee and the 4% statewide sales tax applied to hotels, local authorities can levy an excise tax ranging from 3% to 8%. The hotel-motel tax puts Georgia’s hotels at a disadvantage to short-term rental platforms, especially economy and select-service properties, which pay significantly more proportionally compared to properties with higher nightly rates. Short-term rentals have evaded the hotel-motel tax for years due to the vague definition of an “innkeeper” under Georgia law.
A group of Representatives in the Georgia General Assembly, led by Rep. Ron Stephens (R-164), proposed House Bill 317 in the recent legislative session. This bill revises “the definition of ‘innkeeper’ to include marketplace facilitators” so that “all rooms, lodgings, and accommodations” are required to remit the $5 hotel-motel tax. H.B. 317 passed in the Georgia Senate by a vote of 31 to 5 and in the Georgia House by a vote of 142 to 22. In late April, Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law. The law will go into effect on July 1.
AAHOA applauds Georgia lawmakers for their support of this bipartisan law which is a step to. For years, AAHOA Members in Georgia have engaged with their Representatives and Senators, sending letters and attending meetings to raise awareness on the issue. This is a great step toward a more level playing field between hoteliers and short-term rentals.
Georgia Rep. Ron Stephens (R-164), Sponsor of H.B. 317
“H.B. 317 deals with Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO) and other long-term accommodations advertised by third-party marketing organizations. This legislation will require that innkeepers collect and bill customers for all taxes levied or imposed by this legislation on transactions facilitated by any marketplace innkeeper. This clamping down on VRBOs and other short-term rental accommodations will even the playing field of our many innkeepers and hoteliers in the greater Savannah area as they try to keep up with pandemic losses.”
Georgia Rep. Spencer Frye (D-118), Co-sponsor of H.B. 317
“Local residents can lose control of the housing market in an otherwise good economy if speculation takes hold, pricing families out of their own neighborhoods. And in areas where populations are becoming less dense, a decrease in available tax dollars can mean the town has to resort to increasing traffic fines and all sorts of fees.”