The Legislature has been criticized in some quarters for passing tax breaks and stimulus measures to spur job growth or home purchases in this time of falling revenues. Even now, many are urging the governor to veto certain of these measures.
There are two reasons tax breaks seem to make sense right now.
1. The state is limited in ways it can address the economic downturn. The bond package, at $1.2 billion for FY 2010, is probably the main way that economic activity can be generated through the construction of infrastructure and new facilities for schools, colleges and libraries.
2. Tax breaks are usually sunsetted and experience has shown they rarely cost what projections and fiscal notes predict.
3. Well, really there are three reasons ... in this unprecedented period of high unemployment and the state of the home-building industry and others, any action that moves economic activity in the right direction seems warranted.
So here are some of the legislative initiatives that were passed and await the governor’s signature:
HB 481 —Jobs, Opportunity and Business Act of 2009 (J.O.B.S.)
1. Various business start-up fees are suspended for one year from July 1. For example the $100 fee for new filings for LLCs, limited partnerships and new companies.
2. Creates a $2,400 income tax credit for hiring an employee who has been unemployed for at least four weeks. Employment must be sustained for 24 months. Applies only to hires before July 1, 2010. Two year carry forward only, not prior. Wage must be equal to or more than unemployment benefits.
3. Begins phase-out of the sales tax deposit.
4. Provides a quarterly tax credit toward the unemployment insurance tax for each eligible employee hired. Credit to be applied to future unemployment contributions for the hiring of someone receiving state unemployment benefits.
5. Removes the corporate net worth tax and eliminates the corporate net worth return from being filed.
6. Reduces state long-term capital gains tax by 25 percent starting July 1, 2010, and by 50 percent from July 1, 2011.
HB 261 — Limited six months (from time of signature of governor) income tax credit of 1.2 percent of the purchase price of a home limited to $1,800 spread over three years. Home must be owner-occupied.
HB 482 — Allows for a referendum in 2010 to exempt business inventory from state ad valorem taxes.
HB 120 — Allows for sales tax holiday for energy efficient appliances or water efficient appliances from Oct. 1-4, 2009.
HB 186 — Extends the income tax credit for teleworking through FY2012. Increases the available credit to $2.5 million for 2011 and 2012.
HB 59 — Makes law clear that physicians do not owe sales tax for samples given to patients or in clinical trials.
Property tax bills
HB 318 — Exempts up to $100,000 in heavy equipment owned by small businesses from ad valorem taxes until Dec. 31, 2010. Will hopefully keep small businesses afloat long enough for the economy to turn around.
HB 233 — Freezes all property assessments at present amount until January 2011. While most properties have not gone up in value lately, this bill insures that assessments won’t go up for two years.
HB 304 — Requires written or reasonable notice for tax assessors to go on private property.
• requires governments to provide notice on Web sites and on tax bills that taxpayers have the right to file a return.
• provides a $32,500 homestead exemption for un-remarried surviving widows or minor children of a disabled veteran.
SB 240 — New expedited and cost effective assessment appeal process that includes the right for a landowner to submit their appraisal in determining value in an appeal.
SB 55 — Mandates consideration of sales of distressed property sales like foreclosure sales in determining assessed value of property
Perhaps as April 15 passes and the growth of TEA (Taxed Enough Already) parties is still fresh in our minds, we should remember that an actual tax-paying citizen is the one class of citizen important to all of us.
I may be reached at
234 State Capitol, Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-5038 (phone)
(404) 657-7094 (fax)
E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
Or call toll-free at
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Reidsville office: (912) 557-3811