Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians

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The Special Council on Tax Fairness for Georgians was established during the 2009-2010 Legislative Session (HB1405) to conduct a thorough study of the state’s current revenue structure and report its findings and recommendations for legislation to the speaker of the House and lieutenant governor by Jan. 10.

When I attended the Aug. 26 meeting at the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot, the Blu Room wasn’t packed as I expected it would be be given the current political and economic climate. Only eight people signed up in advance to address the committee.

Several trends surfaced during public commentary that included supporting an increase in the cigarette tax to raise revenue and decrease tobacco consumption, maintaining nonprofits’ exemption from property taxes, and from the agricultural sector—not creating a tax on production inputs. A nonprofit, a dairy farmer, representatives from the public health sector, and a member of the Georgia Tea Party were just some of the speakers. They shared stories of how the new taxes would affect them personally, and they painted a grim picture of the ripple effect of how implementing new taxes in one sector could ultimately be detrimental to Georgia’s economy as a whole.

The Council, at its public presentation at Mercer University’s Atlanta Campus last month, provided background information on the top three industries in Georgia—agribusiness, manufacturing, and tourism—provided an overview of how local, county, and state taxes work, and discussed emerging industries such as medical technology.

The agribusiness presentation focused on the need for taxes in Georgia to be competitive, maintain continuity, and be flexible. Georgia, to be competitive with other states, must have lower tax rates that are consistent and can adapt to the changing needs of the agribusiness sector. The manufacturing and tourism presentations recommended decreasing the tax rates in these industries to help bring more business into the state.

The presentations provided insight into how localities utilize tax dollars, and recommended that individual cities have access to the sales tax and the authority to increase sales tax by a penny to generate additional revenue.

The public needs to attend these meetings because the testimony and evidence the Council gather will shape its findings and recommendations to the new administration. If you want your voice heard, now is the time and there a just two opportunities left:

Nov. 3, 1 – 5 p.m.
Cecil B. Day Hall, Mercer University, 3001 Mercer University Dr, Atlanta

Dec. 1, 1 – 5 p.m.
Cecil B. Day Hall, Mercer University, 3001 Mercer University Dr, Atlanta

Learn more about the remaining fact-finding sessions

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