Many smart business people in Georgia end their calendar years ensuring their financial houses are in order. As we approach the end of 2020, I wanted to share some tax-related opportunities that may be of interest to you on a business and personal level. Some of these opportunities must be acted on before the end of the year; so, if you are interested, seek out financial advice as soon as possible!
Firstly, the Georgia HEART Hospital Program helps rural hospitals gain access to additional funding, allowing them to provide high-quality medical services to rural communities. If you pay income taxes in Georgia, you can receive a 2020 tax credit for contributing to your designated rural hospital, like Effingham Hospital in Springfield. To learn more about donating, visit GeorgiaHeart.org. You will also find applications for the tax credit and a list of other participating hospitals on this website.
If you have children or grandchildren, you may be interested in a “529 Plan.” A 529 Plan is a savings program where the money placed in the account grows without being taxed. As long as the money withdrawn from the account is used for qualified higher education expenses (including tuition, books, fees, and certain costs associated with room and board), there are no tax consequences for withdrawals. In Georgia, these plans are operated by The Path2College 529 Plan under the Georgia Office of the State Treasurer’s authority. Funds from these accounts may be used at virtually any college or university in the United States (including technical colleges) and many institutions abroad. Contributions up to $4,000 per year, per beneficiary, are eligible for a Georgia state income tax deduction for those filing a single return; and $8,000 per year, per beneficiary, for those filing a joint return. The program currently offers seven investment options, and accounts may be opened with as little as $25. To learn more about this program, visit Path 2 College 529.
An opportunity to increase educational opportunities available to Georgia’s Pre-K-12 students is through the Qualified Education Expense Credit, enacted in 2008. This credit permits Georgia taxpayers to receive a state income tax credit for donations made to qualified student scholarship organizations. These organizations award scholarships to Georgia students who are currently enrolled — and have been enrolled for at least six weeks — in a Georgia secondary or primary public school or who are eligible to enroll in Pre-K, Kindergarten, or 1st grade. Recipient students use their scholarships to attend the private K-12 schools of their parents’ choice. Donors to this type of scholarship program receive a 100% state income tax credit.
Two organizations provide these types of scholarships that partner with schools in our area. The GOAL Scholarship Program has awarded more than 41,000 scholarships worth over $160 million to almost 17,000 students. Over 10,000 of the scholarships awarded have been in south Georgia. The average value of the scholarship awarded to each student has been $3,899, with the balance of tuition costs being paid by scholarship families together with other financial aid provided by the participating private schools.
Both Bulloch Academy and Bible Baptist Christian Academy are local schools that participate in the GOAL Scholarship Program. To learn more about this program, visit www.GoalScholarship.org. To contribute to this scholarship program, visit Goal Scholarship - For Donors.
In Sylvania, Screven Christian Academy participates in the Alyn Scholarship Fund, which operates identically to the Goal Scholarship program. If you would like more information on the Alyn Scholarship fund, visit www.AlynFund.org. To contribute to this scholarship program, visit Alyn Fund - Donor Info.
I hope that these resources help you prepare to close out the books on this year and plan for a prosperous and healthy 2021. It is truly an honor to work for you and this great state. If you have any feedback, do not hesitate to call (404) 656-5052, email, or engage on Facebook. If you would like to receive email updates, please visit my website to sign up for my newsletter or email me.
Jon Burns represents District 159 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as the House majority leader.