Georgia gas, hotel taxes increase under new law

Georgia gas, hotel taxes increase under new law

June 30th, 2015 by Associated Press in Local Regional News

Hotel room tile

Hotel room tile

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

ATLANTA -- Taxes on gasoline and hotel stays are going up under a new transportation funding law that takes effect Wednesday.

Among the significant changes is the conversion of Georgia's mix of taxes totaling about 19.5 cents into a flat 26 cents per gallon excise tax dedicated to transportation expenses. Diesel was set at 29 cents per gallon. AAA Georgia expects gas prices to climb 6 or 7 cents per gallon in Georgia.

Lawmakers said the law would raise $900 million to maintain the state's roads and bridges.

AAA spokesman Garrett Townsend said drivers shouldn't see prices jump overnight because gas increases typically are "phased in" at stations. Prices pre-tax also remain less than $3, cheaper than prices around this time last year, he said.

"We'll ease our way in," he said.

Consumers may not see an exact match of 6 or 7 cents either, because gas prices fluctuate often, said Jim Tudor, president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

"The tax on motor fuel may be under- or over-reflected in the price on the street," Tudor said. "We'll be in a better position in a day or two to know what's really happened."

But another piece of the law will be immediately felt by those staying in Georgia's hotels and motels. Lawmakers added a $5 per night fee in the final version of the law.

State regulations say the fee doesn't apply if customers paid for their stay before July 1.

Jim Sprouse, executive director of the Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association, said the change penalizes Georgia residents responsible for more than half of hotel stays in some parts of the state. One research study completed after the law was approved estimates lost room bookings worth $104 million.

"The only way to fix it now is a legislative change in 2016," Sprouse said. "We have to live with it for a year."

Other key pieces of the law include:

* A new $200 annual fee on alternative fuel vehicles and a new $300 fee for those used commercially.

* The elimination of the state's generous $5,000 tax credit for new purchases or leases of electric cars after July 1. Supporters had hoped to have the credit phased out.

* The elimination of a tax break on jet fuel purchases at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The break had benefited one of the state's largest companies, Delta Air Lines, and other airlines.


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