(The Center Square) – Georgia residents could receive tax cuts for donating to law enforcement and foster care organizations under legislation moving through the state Senate.
Senate Bill 361 would give up to $5,000 in credits to each taxpayer who donates to a law enforcement agency. Senate Bill 370 would provide up to $2,500 per person in tax credits to those who contribute to organizations that help children aged out of foster care.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved both bipartisan bills Wednesday.
The law enforcement proposal is part of Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan’s effort to reduce crime in Georgia.
“I think it empowers individuals and corporations to participate in their own communities,” Duncan told the committee.
Local law enforcement agencies can use the donations for pay raises, training, hiring, equipment or to set up co-responder programs. Co-responder programs connect mental health specialists and officers so they both can respond to an incident involving someone with mental illness.
The law enforcement tax credit program is capped at $10 million a year. Each law enforcement agency would need to set up a foundation to collect up to $5 million a year. Taxpayers will get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit under the plan. Married couples and businesses could get up to $10,000 in tax credits. Donors’ names and contributors will be kept confidential to avoid conflicts of interest under the measure.
Sen. Larry Walker III is the lead sponsor of SB 361, which has 31 co-sponsors.
Duncan also is backing SB 370, which is being carried by Sen. Bill Cowsert, R-Athens. There are 25 charitable organizations that would benefit from the tax credit program, capped at $25 million a year.
Duncan said he sees the credits as policy credits instead of tax credits.
“It’s an early investment into a problem the state is paying for anyway,” Duncan told the committee.
The donations will cover wraparound services for aged-out foster children, including housing, vocational services, medical bills, counseling and nutritional services.
Sens. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; Chuck Payne, R-Dalton; Elena Parent, D-Atlanta; Harold Jones II, D-Augusta; and Matt Brass, R-Newnan, are co-sponsors on SB370.
Both bills must be approved by a full vote in the House and Senate before being sent to the governor.