Georgia groups turn attention to tax overhaul

(The Center Square) — As the state looks to evaluate and possibly overhaul its tax system, one state public policy group says officials should improve the tax credit system’s transparency.

“The state has taken a vital step toward creating a fairer tax system by convening this panel and by implementing specific legislative provisions like the one in 2021’s SB 6 that provided for the analyses of tax benefits,” Georgia Budget and Policy Institute President and CEO Staci Fox said in a statement. “While these measures are commendable, past evaluations of tax credits have run into resource and information limitations that hindered meaningful findings and the identification of actionable next steps.

“Overall, the current tax credit system is vulnerable and allows large out-of-state companies to exploit Georgia’s tax credits while sidelining small businesses,” Fox added. “The need for consistent, robust evaluations cannot be understated. Georgians deserve transparency in how their tax dollars are being spent. By implementing a comprehensive and regular evaluation process, the state can lay the foundation for transparency, accountability and equitable and responsible resource allocation.”

Fox addressed the state’s Joint Tax Credit Review Panel, which will hold meetings across the state and recommend possible changes for lawmakers to consider.

Georgia offers an array of tax credits, ranging from credits for historic preservation to the much-ballyhooed credit to attract film production to credits Peach State politicos tout whenever a business relocates to the state.

Meanwhile, a business group says reducing tangible personal property tax rates could help the state continue its run as a leading place for businesses. This week, Venture Smarter ranked the Peach State as the top state for business growth.

“Georgia’s first-place finish doesn’t come as a surprise,” NFIB State Director Hunter Loggins said in a statement. “Gov. Brian Kemp and legislative leaders have helped small businesses not only survive but grow and create jobs despite a host of challenges including the worst rate of inflation this country has seen in decades. Our members fully expect that momentum to continue as the governor and lawmakers work to improve Georgia’s business climate.

“We support Governor Kemp’s call to stop frivolous lawsuits and reduce insurance premiums, and we’re encouraged by legislators’ commitment to addressing the state’s ongoing labor shortage and reducing tangible personal property tax rates,” Loggins added. “These initiatives will ensure that Georgia remains a great state to open and grow a small business for years to come.”

By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor

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