The Georgia Department of Revenue clarified in a letter ruling that purchases of accommodations by the federal government are not subject to the State Hotel-Motel Fee. Georgia innkeepers are required to charge the $5.00 per night State Hotel-Motel Fee to customers for each night a room is rented, unless the rental is specifically excluded from the fee or until the rental becomes an extended stay. Hotel rooms rented by federal government are excluded from the fee when payment is by a check or wire drawn on a federal government account, by a credit card centrally billed to the federal government, or by a federal government purchase order.
For purposes of this discussion, “centrally-billed” are charge card accounts where the entire balance is centrally billed to, and paid directly by, the federal government. “Individually-billed accounts” are charge card accounts billed directly to the employee, even if the employee is later reimbursed by the federal government. “Integrated billing” is a method of billing charge cards which allows the financial institution issuing the credit card to bill more than one party under one account.
GSA SmartPay 3 Purchase, Fleet, and some Travel charge cards are issued under contract with the United States General Services Administration (GSA). In Georgia, only charge card purchases where the entire balance is centrally billed to the federal government agency are exempt from sales tax. Purchases made with charge cards which are individually billed or which use an integrated billing method are taxable. An exemption certificate cannot be issued with the use of credit cards which are individually billed or which use an integrated billing method since the transaction is taxable as a purchase by the employee, not the federal government.
(Letter Ruling LR SUT-2018-02, Georgia Department of Revenue, March 12, 2018, released January 15, 2019)