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Rising transportation tax revenues show Georgians back to driving, traveling

With the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Georgia steadily declining, more and more Georgians are driving and traveling. That encouraging trend is showing up in monthly tax collections reported by the state Department of Transportation.

The DOT collected $174 million in motor fuels tax revenue last month, state Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry told members of the State Transportation Board Thursday. That represents a 9.1% increase over September of last year. During the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the agency collected $558.4 million in motor fuel taxes, a 9.4% increase over July, August and September 2020. Revenues from the state tax on gasoline and other motor fuels plummeted when the coronavirus pandemic first struck Georgia in March of last year but were starting to recover by August 2020.

Today, tax collections are not only up over last year at this time but are even exceeding pre-pandemic levels, McMurry said Thursday. In fact, the last three months saw an increase in motor fuel revenue of $39.4 million over July, August and September 2019, well before the pandemic. “People are out and about,” McMurry said. “These are positive signs.”

The numbers on the state’s hotel-motel tax are even more dramatic, evidence that people cooped up during the pandemic have resumed taking trips.

The DOT saw an increase of 37.5% in hotel tax revenue last month compared to September of last year and a whopping 50.3% rise in tax collections during the July, August and September quarter over those same months during the last fiscal year.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educationa Foundation.

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