New Tax: Five Dollars Per Night for Hotel Stays in the State of Georgia

f you have stayed at a hotel or motel property within the state of Georgia during the past 13 days, you might have noticed that the room rate is more expensive. This is because effective as of Wednesday, July 1, 2015, a new tax adds five dollars per night for hotel stays as the result of a new law.

This means that a stay of five nights in the state of Georgia will tack on $25.00 to your folio — in addition to the room rate, existing taxes and fees — when you check out of your room.

The hotel tax was a provision added at the last minute to fund the HB 170 Transportation Funding Act of 2015 with a price tag of greater than $900 million, as voted on in the final version of the law by members of the Georgia General Assembly.

Section 5-15 starting on page 18 of this document — now known as Code 48-13-50.3 — states the following:

On or after July 1, 2015, each innkeeper in this state shall charge a $5.00 per night fee to the customer, unless it is an extended stay rental, for each calendar day a room, lodging, or accommodation is rented or leased. The innkeeper shall collect the fee at the time the customer pays for the rental or lease of such room, lodging, or accommodation. The innkeeper collecting the fee shall remit the fee on a monthly basis to the department.

I personally checked for myself by pretending to reserve a room at hotel properties within the state of Georgia — and sure enough, there was the fee of five dollars per night added to the room rate as shown in the graphic at the top of this article. Note that it does not matter whether the room rate is $50.00 per night or $5,000.00 per night — the tax is still an extra five dollars per night.

Opposed to the new tax, representatives of the hospitality industry had already been lobbying to scale back the tax — but with no success at this time. Even dedicated Internet web sites which opposed the bill — such as this one on Facebook — had little to no impact.

Jim Sprouse — who is executive director of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association and someone whom I have known professionally for years — said that the new tax penalizes residents of the state of Georgia, who are responsible for more than half of hotel stays in some parts of the state and will have to collectively pay as much as $48 million extra in taxes.

Other people are concerned that the increased revenues anticipated by the new hotel tax may be offset — and perhaps overshadowed — by decreased hotel reservation bookings worth as much as $104 million, according to one research study.

Taxes on fuel sold in the state of Georgia also increased as of Wednesday, July 1, 2015 as a result of this new law — as much as by 26 cents per gallon of gasoline and 29 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. Although this tax is intend to be paid by distributors of fuel, you can bet that the increases will be passed on to the consumer.

The law also eliminated a tax break on the purchase of jet fuel at the international airport in Atlanta, which had benefited Delta Air Lines — one of the largest companies in the state of Georgia — as well as other airlines, according to Section 5-3 starting on page 9 of this document.

What the state of Georgia did is not unusual in a number of jurisdictions around the world in order to fund projects such as transportation and stadium venues — but is the hotel tax of five dollars per night fair to the traveler?

What are your thoughts?

Source of graphic: Hilton Worldwide, Incorporated. Red arrows indicating the five dollar charge per night added by Brian Cohen.

7 thoughts on “New Tax: Five Dollars Per Night for Hotel Stays in the State of Georgia”

  1. Gene says:

    Thanks for the post, Brian. My partner was charged this tax on a June 29 stay at.a Hampton Inn. A phone call to remove the charge is now on my to do list. Not worth my time, but it is the principle…

    Glad to see Delta lose it’s subsidy. We Georgia tax payers should not be subsidizing Delta and the liars over at SkyMiles.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I am not saying that this may be the case here, Gene; but there are companies who rely on complacency to add to their profits.

      Chances are that if that premature charge happened to you, it happened to other guests as well. Assuming that 50 rooms per night were occupied for two days, that is potentially 500 extra dollars of virtually pure profit if it is not reported.

      While it may not be worth your time, thank you for standing up to the principle of the matter.

      As for subsidizing Delta Air Lines, I do not believe in subsidizing multi-billion dollar for-profit companies — such as is the case with the Atlanta Braves, for example.

      The unfortunate reality is that if you or I do not subsidize companies and their supposed contributions to the economy, someone else will — and lure them with tax breaks.

      Of course, many companies do take unfair advantage of those tax breaks — such as with this example:

      http://www.wlox.com/story/5805473/harsh-realities-forced-orecks-relocation-decision

  2. Ben says:

    The tax should be a percent rather than a flat fee. Someone spending $39/night at a Motel 6 gets hit by this pretty badly (12.8% tax), while someone dropping $1500/night for a corner suite at the Four Seasons Atlanta it’s a drop in the bucket (0.3% tax).

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      There are those who state that this new flat tax is unfair to low-income people who live in cheap motel after cheap motel and can barely scrape by financially for the very reason you state, Ben.

      They now have to find an extra $35.00 per week just to preserve their status quo living arrangements…

  3. Vicente says:

    Smart moves. I lived in Atlanta for 20 years. Every time I go back to visit family and friends I am struck by what a hub it has become for conventions. I stopped by the Georgia World Congress Center to pick up my Peachtree Road Race number, and it was PACKED with people there for an AA convention of some sort. The convention business is massive and strains the city at times, I’m quite certain they won’t notice a $5 room tax, in between the huge charges for food and drink.

    I agree though this is unwelcome at the roach motel end of things, but it’d be a bit difficult to sort out who should and shouldn’t get charged it, and some chains would game the system to avoid it. Simpler to charge it across the board. As a Red State, you aren’t going to get a lot of traction with “it hurts the poor” that just doesn’t fly there, as my 100% Fox News watching relatives will very loudly attest at the drop of a hat.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I cannot find it at the moment, Vicente; but I came across an article which addresses the lucrative convention industry in Atlanta and how some of the companies involved may balk at spending an extra $75,000.00 — a number which stuck in my mind — because of this new tax.

      Then again, it could have simply been propaganda by lobbyists opposed to the tax.

      Either way, we will not know what effect the new tax will have on convention business in Atlanta until it is put to the test…

  4. Davina says:

    Hello Brain, thanks for the information. I am staying at an extended stay Motel Studio 6. I’ve been here since Dec. 12. I was told by January 10 I will have to check out then check back in. Confused I didn’t understand the rationale behind such action. However, after reading your articular I learned if a person stay at an extended stay then the $35.00 fee should not be charged, and if a person stay over 30 days at an extended stay the fee should be remitted. Who can I contact to assure I am not being over charged.

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