Georgia’s Walker County seeks new lodging tax
- Mar 9, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
Walker County, Georgia, is seeking to impose a new 8 percent tax on short-term lodging, including short-term vacation rentals.
Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield introduced the new tax hoping to generate revenue for the county from a planned 180-room hotel and conference center on Lookout Mountain. The tax would apply to county-owned property located in incorporated cities as well as properties located in unincorporated areas of the county.
Before the tax goes into effect July 1, it must be approved by the state Legislature. According to Whitfield, Senator Jeff Mullis has agreed to introduce a bill during this legislative session that will allow the county to collect the tax.
Walker County is one of the few counties in the state that does not already collect lodging tax. Local cities LaFayette and Chickamauga charge 5 percent lodging tax, while Lookout Mountain’s lodging tax is 3 percent. In LaFayette, lodging tax generated $51,000 for the city government in 2016.
The tax of 8 percent is the maximum allowed by Georgia law, which also requires that Walker County provide annual reports to the state on the amount of tax generated. The county must spend two-thirds of the revenue promoting tourism, while the rest of the money can go into the general fund.
Tourist destinations in the county include Rock City, Cloudland Canyon State Park, and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Although short-term rental platform Airbnb collects lodging tax on behalf of hosts in many locations, it does not do so in Georgia. This means all short-term rental hosts, no matter which booking site they use to offer rentals, are responsible for registering with local tax authorities and collecting lodging taxes. Short-term rental operators don’t have to pay the tax themselves, but they must collect it from guests and pass it on to the tax authorities.
Short-term rental hosts can get help with this from MyLodgeTax, a management service that takes care of registering and filing lodging taxes for them. MyLodgeTax can handle all the details of lodging taxes for hosts — accurately and affordably.