Damian Dovarganes / AP Photo, File

As Georgia lawmakers continue to weigh possible regulations for short-term rental websites like Airbnb, they're finding the issue to be a complex one.

Should laws distinguish between units available year-round and those people rent out for special events, like the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta? Should cities follow Savannah’s lead and implement their own laws, or should the state set the policy? And is the state prepared to implement a tax?

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a press conference on Oct. 20, naming members of the Georgia Ebola Response Team.
Branden Camp / AP Photo

Gov. Nathan Deal says Georgia's tax collections for January rose 3 percent compared to the same month last year.

He says that so far in 2015, tax collections total about $11.5 billion, up 5.2 percent versus the same period in the previous fiscal year.

Individual withholding payments dropped 2.2 percent or $18.75 million in January, versus January 2014, while tax refunds for last month shot up $41 million, or 221 percent.

Rush hour traffic on Atlanta's downtown connector
Gregor Smith /

Republican state lawmakers appear ready to raise taxes or fees to pay for Georgia’s underfunded transportation network, a development setting off alarm bells for some voters.

"I think they can find what they need to improve the roads with what they've got," says George Bicknell, a midtown Atlanta resident."We fund a lot of things that don’t need funding and nobody’s willing to let their own pet projects be cut and so the cry is always 'more taxes,' not 'let’s prioritize what we've got.'"

Chris Ferguson / WABE

Georgians will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for governor and U.S. Senate. But they’ll also face some ‘ballot initiatives,’ those questions that come at the end of the ticket. This year, Cobb residents decide whether to renew a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.

The tax would fund a long list of projects that include upgrading roads, bridges, and drainage systems.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County scored an initial victory Thursday in a court case that will determine whether the county had the authority to approve a 17 percent property tax increase. Fulton commissioners voted for the property tax hike last month.

Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley decided not to block Fulton County from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes owed by 7 current and former state lawmakers filing suit against Fulton. The lawmakers asked the judge to prevent the county from collecting the money while the case is underway.

Six Fulton state lawmakers and one former state lawmaker have filed suit against Fulton County to block Fulton from raising its property tax rate. The legal action comes after the Fulton commission voted to raise the county’s millage rate by more than 17% this week. Those suing the county claim it violates a state law that says the county cannot raise its property tax rate until 2015.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County could potentially face a court challenge after passing a more than 17 percent millage rate increase Wednesday. A state lawmaker says she and others are exploring legal options because of a state law banning the county from raising property taxes until 2015.

Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, authored the 2013 law which prohibits Fulton from increasing property taxes until next year. She thinks the county’s decision to raise its millage rate breaks that law.

Fulton County Courthouse

NOTE: this story has been superceded by a later story.

WABE reporter Michelle Wirth says that the Fulton County Commission has voted 4-3 to approve a 17% increase in the property tax, despite a state law that says Fulton can't increase its property tax until 2015.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County residents will soon see higher property tax bills. Today, the Fulton County commission voted 4 to 3 in favor of a more than 17 percent property tax increase. The increase could lead to a court challenge because of a Georgia law banning the county from raising taxes until 2015.

Despite the law, Commissioners voted to raise the county’s general fund millage rate by 1.57 mills. Commission Chairman John Eaves says he believes the county is on solid legal footing.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County Commissioners are expected to vote today on a proposed property tax increase of more than 17 percent.

The vote comes after the commission decided to delay a vote on the proposed increase last month to allow three additional public hearings. If approved, county officials say it would mean a $140 increase for those with a $275,000 home.

Robert Aaron/WABE

Expect stores to be a little more crowded on Friday and Saturday.  That’s because many Georgians will take advantage of the state’s annual back-to-school tax-free weekend. 

  For roughly 48-hours, Georgians will be able to stock up on school supplies, computers and clothing without having to pay state and local taxes on those items. 

Nick Genesi is a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Revenue.

“Whether you are a teacher, whether you are a student or whether you’re a parent anytime you can save some money, it’s a good thing.”

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

During the first of three hearings, several Fulton County residents called on county commissioners to reject a proposed property tax increase of more than 17 percent.

The majority speaking during the sparsely attended hearing asked commissioners to vote against a plan to raise Fulton County's millage rate by 1.57 mills.  If approved, that would mean a $140 increase for those with a $275,000 home. College Park Resident Kip Carr asked commissioners to trim the county’s budget instead.

Cobb County logo
Cobb County

  Cobb County Commissioners will hear a proposal Tuesday by the South Cobb Development Authority to raise property taxes on businesses and rental properties in part of South Cobb. Officials say a 3.5 mills increase would help buy blighted properties and improve interchanges and streetscapes.

Boundaries for the special services district would stretch from the Cobb County and Fulton County line all the way to the Cobb and Douglass County border. It would also include areas north of I-20 along the Six Flags over Georgia corridor.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County commissioners voted 5 to 2 to advertise a potential property tax increase that could amount to a more than 17 percent increase for county homeowners. If commissioners approve the increase, the matter will likely end up in court. That’s because a state law prohibits Fulton from raising property taxes until 2015.

The intersection of Flat Shoals Road and I-285 is one of GDOT's projects that may be stalled due to lack of funding.
Chris Ferguson/WABE

Gas prices are heading down nationwide and in Georgia.

The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded was $3.65 Sunday, May 11, which was the twelfth day in a row the price declined.

American Automobile Association spokesman Mark Jenkins says prices should continue to drop throughout the summer because of unprecedented crude oil supply. “Here in the Gulf Coast refineries, they’re at record levels of petroleum,” said Jenkins. And last month, they reached their highest monthly average of production since 1988.”

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

The Georgia Senate approved a resolution 42 to 11 to let voters decide whether to cap the state’s income tax rate at its current level within the state’s Constitution.

Right now, the state’s income tax rate is 6 percent for all Georgians who make more than $7,000. Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer says his resolution will help the state be more competitive. He says although Georgia’s income tax rate is lower than the federal tax rate, it’s higher than most other Southern states.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Fulton County could be on a collision course to court after passing a 2014 budget yesterday that includes a 15 percent tax increase. Several state lawmakers in the Fulton Republican delegation say if county commissioners finalize the tax increase later this year, they are breaking a state law capping Fulton’s property taxes.

House Republican Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones says the 1.57 percent millage rate increase would violate a state law freezing the county’s property tax rate until the beginning of 2015.

Under State Pressure, Atlanta Agrees To Tax Sharing Plan

Oct 17, 2013
City of Atlanta

Under state pressure to reach a unanimous agreement, Fulton County and its 14 cities finalized a plan Thursday to share an estimated $240 million in annual sales tax revenue.

State officials had said the county could lose the tax revenue altogether if every jurisdiction didn’t sign on.

For the second time in as many years, Georgians will have a tax-free weekend on certain items that conserve water and energy.

Starting Friday, so-called WaterSense products, including faucets, toilets and showerheads, are tax-free.

State officials say WaterSense items conserve at least 20% more water than typical ones.

The US Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday ruled legally married same-sex couples will be allowed to file their taxes jointly starting in 2013.

The ruling comes in response to the June 26 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The ruling applies to couples regardless of where they live, though only extends to couples whose marriage is recognized by a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legalized, not civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

Shoppers are already taking advantage of Georgia’s sales tax holiday. During the next two days, shoppers can purchase clothing, computers and school supplies under certain dollar amounts tax free. WABE’s Michelle Wirth spoke with shoppers about the holiday.

Cobb County property owners may see some relief in their tax bills next month. County commissioners are considering a proposal that would slightly lower the millage rate.

The proposal reduces the rate by .2 mills. So the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $14 less than last year. Cobb County commission chair Tim Lee says he’s fulfilling a promise he made after commissioners had to raise the property tax rate significantly in 2011.

Emory University School of Law

Fulton County says it is on firm legal ground in rejecting a new state law that stops the County from raising property tax rates for two years.

But an Emory University law scholar says that may not be the case.

Fulton County’s position is that House Bill 604, passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, violates the County's right to home rule. Home rule was the focus of a state constitutional overhaul in 1983.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

The Gwinnett County School Board is considering a plan to raise property taxes. If approved, it would be the first increase in eight years.

The board is considering a total millage rate increase of 1.3 mills. That would mean approximately $101 more per year for those living in a $200,000 dollar home. Rick Cost is the Chief Financial officer for the district. He says the plan has been proposed to help avoid teacher furlough days, add school resource officers and repay bonds used for constructing classrooms.

Office of Gov. Nathan Deal

Pledging continued fiscal restraint, Gov. Nathan Deal today signed into law the state’s 2014 budget.

“We believe this is a budget that will maintain the fiscal conservatism that has been represented in the other budgets I’ve had the pleasure of signing,” said Deal.

The $19.9 billion budget includes an increase of $819 million, or 4.6 percent, compared to last year.

Most of the budget increase goes to keeping up with growing healthcare and education costs.

Deal said budget restraint would be key as the economy continues its modest recovery.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal includes $75 billion to expand pre-kindergarten programs.  It’s the same plan the president introduced when he visited a pre-k center in Decatur in February. Due to the success of its pre-k program, Georgia could receive a share of the money.

The president’s proposal increases the cigarette tax to pay for the expansion. Bobby Cagle, the commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, says  he supports a pre-k expansion, but favors an alternative funding source.

April 15 Tax Deadline Looms for Late Filers

Apr 12, 2013
The Internal Revenue Service

The deadline to file taxes for 2012 is Monday.

Officials at the Internal Revenue Service, remind filers to take an extra-close look at the paperwork before turning it over to the government.

"Probably one of the most costly errors that I've seen over the last 28 years has been where individuals complete everything, double-check all the math, double-check all the social security numbers and then send in the return without signing it.  So that's been a very costly error," says IRS spokesman Mark Green.

College Park Wins Airport Tax Victory in Court

Mar 28, 2013
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled today that the City of College Park can tax businesses at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The two cities have been feuding for years over whether College Park can tax businesses at the airport, some of which lie within the College Park city limits.

By a six-to-one decision, the Court upheld an appeals court ruling that allows College Park to levy taxes on airport business licenses within its boundaries. Atlanta City Attorney Cathy Hampton told WABE that the City is reviewing its next steps in the suit.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

A bill making its way through the Georgia Senate right now would stop Clayton County from taxing vendors at the Atlanta Airport. But county officials say creating a new law will not necessarily stop it.

Since 2010, Clayton County has collected more than $10 dollars in ad valorem taxes from airport vendors. Just two years ago, the county lost tax revenue when the state gave Delta Airlines tax breaks on fuel.

Michelle Wirth/WABE News

With just over a month until the April 15 tax deadline, Georgia Congressman Tom Price visited Chamblee Monday to encourage eligible Georgians to take advantage of a free tax preparation program.

Congressman Price urged Georgians to take advantage of the IRS and Georgia Free File Program. The program allows taxpayers who make $57,000 or less to file their state and federal taxes online for free.