Speaker Responses to Virtual Conference Attendee Questions

Opening General Session (Monday, October 5, 2020): Legislative Update

Q: Is DOR working on any reporting so we can know how much revenue increased specifically due to the marketplace facilitator bill for each city or county?

A: The Department of Revenue (DOR) is subject to extensive confidentiality laws and to our knowledge does not attempt to track increased revenue for each local government jurisdiction. However, we would encourage local governments to monitor their sales tax collections and compare them to last year’s collections by month. However, it is important to keep in mind that an increase in online shopping has also been driven by the deadly pandemic. To better understand municipal revenue trends across the state, GMA has created an online resource for your city to safely and easily share your municipal revenues with the state and federal advocacy teams at GMA. These trends are vital for illustrating the revenue impact that the COVID-19 public health emergency has had on local governments' ability to provide critical services to the residents of Georgia and will be a powerful tool when advocating on cities' behalf in both Atlanta and Washington, DC. See:
https://www.gacities.com/What-We-Do/Advocacy/Municipal-Revenue-Tracking.aspx

Q: Is there any way to isolate the amount sent to each local government related to the $247M? We were thinking tax collections were simply picking up at the State. This one off creates challenges when analyzing cash flow.

A: Due to confidentiality laws, DOR could not share the type of businesses nor the geographic location of such businesses. In terms of analyzing cash flow, it is worthwhile to keep in mind that state audits can result in large fluctuations on occasion. However, ACCG and GMA supported legislation, HB 846, which was signed into law which stipulates that when a taxpayer makes an overpayment of taxes “pursuant to a direct pay permit issued in accordance with Code Section 48-8-49.1, in lieu of a single payment of the final refund amount to the taxpayer, an affected political subdivision may elect for the final refund amount, including applicable interest, to be repaid by the department to the taxpayer over a time period less than or equal to the total duration of the periods subject to the claim for refund.” This should mitigate cash flow issues in this discrete type of situation.

Q: Many local governments get hotel motel tax payments quarterly from a class action suit years ago on hotel website booking companies (Orbitz, etc.). How does HB 448, if approved, impact those payments?

A: If memory serves, the earlier class action lawsuits involving online hotel booking sites resulting in court rulings indicating that, if such sites chose to collect hotel/motel taxes as part of their business model, they were required to remit those taxes to the appropriate jurisdiction. In our view, HB 448 (which would impose a legal requirement for collection of hotel/motel taxes on lodging booking sites) would not have had any bearing on the payments from online booking companies as a result of the class action lawsuit, but please consult with your legal counsel. ACCG and GMA will support the re-introduction of this measure in the 2021 session. If the legislation passes, it would likely lead to increases in collection of hotel/motel taxes and other taxes due by law by these corporations facilitating bookings. Currently many short-term rental owners/operators are unknown to the jurisdictions in which they operate and therefore are less likely to comply with law requiring the remittance of taxes to the state and local governments.

Q: Approximately what month did you say governments will see the sales tax catch up from the computer glitch?

A: It is our understanding that the September disbursement of sales tax funds contained the upward adjustments and that local governments began seeing these deposits in early October.