Are the tax breaks that Georgia legislators have approved over the years expensive giveaways, or are they necessary measures for job creation and improvement of the economy? That’s the question lawmakers are seeking to answer.
In July, a new Senate committee began meeting to examine whether tax incentives are doing what they’re supposed to do: boost the economy, create or retain jobs, and help things like schools and charities. This was partly spurred by frustration voiced by some Senators during the 2017 legislative session. Their argument is that the regular assortment of tax break bills each year—and the revenue lost as a result—makes it more difficult to cut Georgia’s top income tax rate of 6 percent. The events at the end of this year’s session, they say, were a good example, as a broad-based tax cut failed to pass, but smaller tax breaks—such as for yacht owners, music production companies, businesses that invest in small downtown areas, and financial companies that loan money to rural companies—were approved.
The state’s income tax has been targeted for elimination by Republican gubernatorial candidates State Sen. Hunter Hill, State Sen. Michael Williams, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.
State Sen. John Albers is chairman of the committee, and he says it may take years to fully evaluate all the tax breaks in the system. In addition to an analysis of the current incentives, the goal is to develop a thorough process for evaluating new tax break proposals in the future.