Savannah lodging taxes rise September 1
- Sep 5, 2023 | Jennifer Sokolowsky
Lodging taxes in Savannah, Georgia, will increase from 6% to 8% beginning September 1, 2023. The taxes apply to stays in short-term rentals (STRs), hotels, and other lodging establishments.
The increase in the city’s Hotel Motel Tax is the first since 1995 and has been in the works for seven years. State lawmakers approved a bill this spring authorizing the new rate and Governor Brian Kemp signed it in May.
The tax revenues will be divided so the city gets around 37%, Visit Savannah receives around 33%, 14% goes to the convention center, and 15% is used for tourism development. The extra funds will go toward projects that include redevelopment of River Street and the historic Waterworks Building; improvements for trails, sidewalks, and other connections between the Historic District, westside neighborhoods, and the Enmarket Arena; and construction on the Tide to Town trail network.
Hotel/motel taxes generated more than $27.9 million for the city in 2021. It’s estimated that the 8% tax rate could bring in an extra $12 million per year.
Savannah passed its short-term rental regulations in 2017. The city defines “short-term vacation rentals” as the rental of an entire dwelling unit for 30 days or less, while the short-term rental of a room within an owner-occupied dwelling is defined as a “bed and breakfast homestay.”
The law requires STR hosts to obtain a short-term vacation rental certificate from the city and include the certificate number in any listing or advertisement. Among other rules, owners must also:
- Designate an agent who can be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond to any issues
- Follow occupancy rules that limit the number of guests to two per bedroom
- Provide proof of insurance
The city caps non-owner-occupied STR properties at 20% of each ward in the Savannah Downtown Historic District and the Victorian Historic District. Once the cap has been filled in each ward, potential applicants may join a waitlist. The caps do not apply to properties that were licensed before September 28, 2017. In the Streetcar local historic district, STRs zoned as TN-2 must have two or more dwelling units, one of which must be owner-occupied.
Short-term rental hosts are responsible for compliance with Savannah’s hotel/motel tax, as well as state sales tax.
State law requires short-term rental marketplaces such as Airbnb and Vrbo to collect state sales tax automatically on behalf of Georgia hosts and pay it directly to state tax authorities. Airbnb and Vrbo also collect local sales and lodging tax in Savannah. If taxes aren’t being collected for operators, they’re responsible for collecting and remitting them to tax authorities.
MyLodgeTax can automate and simplify short-term rental tax compliance, including registration and filing with state and local tax authorities. For more on short-term rental taxes in Georgia, see our state Vacation Rental Tax Guide. If you have tax questions related to vacation rental properties, drop us a line and we’ll get back to you with answers.