EXPEDIA.com v. Columbus: Court rules in city's favor

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM)- Columbus hotels have long been banished from the online travel website Expedia.com, because of the ongoing court battle over hotel occupancy taxes.

The feud, though, might be permanently laid to rest with Monday's Georgia Supreme Court decision.

The 4-3 landmark vote will now allow cities to tax the entire amount Expedia charges customers to book a room.

"It's the law of Georgia now, that they cannot pay on the wholesale costs, they have to pay what they charge their customers. They charged the tax, and they kept a part of it. They are now going to have to pay all over the state of Georgia, and I think it will implicate them all over the United States," said Neal Pope, the attorney for the City of Columbus in the lawsuit.

The Columbus lawsuit against Expedia was the first in the country to be heard by a high court, and with this decision, many other states may follow suit.

These attorneys say it will also set precedent for other lawsuits pending against Hotels.com and Orbitz.

"I expect the outcome to be exactly the same. In fact, I think this law will dictate the result in those cases," said Pope.

So what happens next?

Attorneys say the case will head back to Superior Court here in Muscogee County, where a judge will determine the amount that Expedia owes Columbus in back taxes, interest and penalties.

It also remains to be seen whether the online travel giant will ever list Columbus hotels on their website again.

"They have not communicated to us whether they would or would not, but certainly those companies chose to take Columbus off their sites in a unified fashion, and they may put us back on if they see the danger they're in by not doing that," said Pope.