Tax Reform Bill Passes Committee; House Debate and Vote Later Today
Georgia tax reform moved forward Monday morning when the General Assembly’s special joint committee on revenue approved a bill to reduce the maximum personal income tax rate. The 6% maximum rate would be reduced to 4.6% next year and 4.55% starting in January 2013.
The bill passed on a voice vote after an eight-minute hearing. Republican committee co-chair Rep. Mickey Channell said proposed tax rate changes would result in a $141 million net tax cut. Republican committee members asked no questions. Democratic committee members asked two questions, one each about agricultural exemptions and the revenue estimate.
The current tax reform bill that began as a bold initiative one year ago faces a live-or-die House vote later today. Passage would move the bill to the Senate for a Thursday vote on the 40th and final day of the General Assembly. Tax reform this year would die if it does not pass the House but the more likely outcome is Governor Nathan Deal will have a bill to sign later this week.
Republicans and Democrats have spent almost two weeks in disagreement over the impact of proposed tax reform on middle income earners who are the largest number of all Georgians. The final bill contains higher itemized deduction limits than earlier versions.
The version approved Monday morning also reinstated tax deductions for organ donations and high deductible insurance costs. Those deductions were removed in an earlier version.
Other surviving features include a new state sales tax on automobile repair labor, a 7% uniform communications service tax that would replace multiple current taxes and removal of state sales taxes charged on the purchase of energy used in manufacturing and in agriculture.
General Assembly action is pending on the $18.2 billion fiscal 2012 budget. Dozens of other bills remain alive. Two would create commissions similar to last year’s tax reform council idea. Governor Deal has proposed a criminal justice reform council. Another commission would ask private industry and public sector members to review how education should be funded.
(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)
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