A Georgia lawmaker wants to exempt online travel companies from paying local occupancy taxes when they book hotel rooms. The proposed legislation is already getting plenty of pushback from local governments.
Republican State Senator Josh McKoon of Columbus says the driving force behind his bill is to fuel a rewrite of long-standing state laws on the collection of occupancy taxes.
The cities of Columbus and Atlanta have won recent court rulings that mandate online travel companies pay local taxes on the room rates they charge their customers. But in one case, online retailer Expedia responded by pulling its Columbus hotel listings, potentially costing the city millions in hotel business.
McKoon says he completely understands the concern of local governments:
“Obviously having heard from the cities and counties, they want some ability to get this revenue stream they believe they’re entitled to. And I’m not uniformly opposed to that.”
McKoon wants all affected parties to come to the table to come up with ideas and solutions.
“Maybe we put in some mechanism where the local hotelier can bill a fee to the end-user of the room, in exchange for having access to the online travel platform, and that fee is remitted to the local taxing authority.”
McKoon’s bill had a committee hearing during the special legislative session that just concluded. He expects further discussion in January’s General Assembly.