Week 11 of the 2012 Session
This week, the General Assembly took great strides in fulfilling a promise I have made to move toward lasting reform of Georgia’s antiquated tax code. For the past two years, I have worked hand in hand with Governor Deal as Co-Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure to reduce the burden of Georgia’s tax code on our hardworking citizens. This week, both the House and Senate passed HB 386, a pro-jobs, pro-family tax reform package that will benefit Georgians and increase our competitive advantage with neighboring states and the global market.
The bill promotes pro-jobs, pro-family tax reform with measures that cut taxes for hard-working Georgians and increase the competitive advantage for Georgia throughout the southeast and the nation by creating and securing jobs and encouraging economic growth. Components of the bill include a three-year sales tax holiday for school supplies and energy efficient products, an increase in personal exemption for married couples, elimination of the “birthday” tax and sales tax on motor vehicles, creation of a tax exemption on energy used in manufacturing, elimination of sales tax on construction materials used in certain economic development projects, as well as an E-Fairness measure which supports our local retailers.
The last few years have been tough on our state and our nation. In Georgia, we have cut spending and maintained a balanced budget. This week we achieved a tax cut equal to $262.4 million over the next three years. Georgians can be proud that their legislature has been active in creating a pro-jobs, pro-family environment. The promise of economic recovery and growth for our state is on the horizon.
Among the highlights of the bill is the elimination of the “birthday tax” and sales tax on motor vehicles. When a Georgia citizen titles a car in our state after Jan. 1, 2013, they will pay a one-time title fee instead of sales tax and “birthday tax” (the annual ad valorem tax due each birthday). The title fee rate will be 6.5 to 7 percent, which is less than or equal to the sales tax in most counties. The bill also includes a minimal fee for transfers between immediate family members and eliminates this local tax on the ownership of personal property.
The bill also provides a three-year sales tax holiday for school supplies as well as energy and water efficient products. Historically, Georgia was one of the first states to establish the popular tax holiday. The holiday, which will cut sales tax for Georgia consumers by an estimated $35 million every year for three years, reaffirms the legislature’s commitment to Georgia’s families and education. An additional pro-family component of the bill is the reduction of the income tax marriage penalty.
Pro-jobs components of the bill include an E-Fairness measure which creates equity and fairness among retailers with a business presence in Georgia and levels the playing field so that Georgia businesses may compete equally with out-of-state competitors. By enforcing the current sales and use tax law, the bill reduces the unfair competitive advantage out-of-state online retailers have over Georgia tax payers and employers.
Successful tax reform has been a goal of the General Assembly for decades. In the 2010 Legislative Session, the General Assembly passed HB 1405 which established the Tax Council to make recommendations and the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure to consider the recommendations of the Council and draft legislation. The Tax Council was comprised of economic and business leaders who traveled across Georgia seeking input from citizens and businesses. They Council then offered proposals to make Georgia’s tax code friendlier and more attractive to employers. Their objective was to present a tax proposal that would help create jobs and move Georgia toward a fairer and more economically attractive tax structure for private citizens and businesses alike.
This is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. I am excited by these first steps which lessen the burden on hardworking Georgians and give our business community a competitive advantage to excel in the global economy and attract more jobs to the state. I am proud of the work our committee and the General Assembly have accomplished during the past 2 years. With the proper foundation laid, Georgia is now poised to remain one of the most competitive pro-business environments in the nation.
It is my pleasure to serve you and to work toward true tax reform for Georgia. This week, we made steps in the right direction by building a solid foundation which tax reform can rest on. This is only the beginning of tax reform for our state. I welcome your ideas and thoughts on the tax reform package that passed this week and look to your ideas in order to continue a tradition of pro-jobs, pro-family tax reform and greater liberty in Georgia.