Who makes up the tax difference? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Who makes up the tax difference?

January 30, 2006

Albany -- State lawmakers might get rid of a tax most business owners hate, but it could end up hurting property owners.

Georgia is one of only 14 states that still have an inventory tax - a tax on the goods on retailers' shelves. And Dougherty County's inventory tax is the second highest in the state.

A proposed bill would let voters decide whether to eliminate the tax, but many county and city leaders say they'd lose millions.

For every $10,000 worth of goods on their shelves, retailers in Dougherty County must pay $161 in county inventory taxes. So eliminating the tax would save stores big bucks, but the county, city, and school system would lose millions of dollars.

"It would eliminate - based on last year's numbers - almost five million dollars of taxes," said Tax Commissioner Denver Hooten. That's why Hooten urged county commissioners not to support a proposed bill to ax the tax.

County Commissioner Chuck Lingle said "That money is counted on each year to run the County, to take care of all the services we provide."

Lingle says if the inventory tax is eliminated, the county would have to make up for the lost revenue by raising property taxes. "If we do away with that tax, that tax with have to be born by the property taxes. I think they are carrying enough of the load now, and I think we share it with business so we can have a congenial community with nobody over taxed."

But business owners argue the tax might deter potential retailers from opening shop here.

Still, commissioners from Dougherty County and other counties across the state are contacting lawmakers to urge them to vote against the elimination of the inventory tax.

The proposed bill is now before the House. It calls for a statewide referendum on the issue.

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