GA legislature passes new lodging tax, awaits governor's signature

GA legislature passes new lodging tax, awaits governor's signature
Published: Apr. 1, 2015 at 7:22 PM EDT|Updated: May. 1, 2015 at 9:00 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - On Tuesday night lawmakers made a late amendment to House Bill 170, one that has one Georgia industry worried about negative long-term effects.

The amendment is a five dollar tax that would be levied on customers getting a hotel room state-wide. According to leaders with the Tourism Leadership Council, if signed into law, the measure would go into effect on July 1.

The move by state legislators has really caught people representing the lodging aspect of the tourism industry off-guard. They've been trying to flood the governor's office with calls, trying to get him to veto the bill, but with no luck so far.

“This was not researched, not vetted for ramifications, and we believe those ramifications are actually pretty substantial,” said Michael Owens, president and CEO of the Tourism Leadership Council.

The $5 tax was originally intended for rental cars, but in a surprise move by state legislators Tuesday night, it was switched to the hospitality industry.

Owens said the negative effects will be easy to see over the next year.

"Will have some evidence there that we can give to our legislators that says, you know, we've got to come up with a plan B, because the simply isn't working. The question hasn't even been raised from what I can hear, is this $200 million that they expect to net from this new tax, will that offset the loss of business that we're going to have," he said. 

If signed into law, the $5 tax would go into effect July 1 of this year.

Gov. Deal tweeted that he's looking forward to signing the bill into law.

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