Valdosta - Ken and Christine Payton are putting the finishing touches on their new home. They moved to Valdosta three months ago, and couldn’t be happier with their choice for retirement. "We love the community, we love the people here and how they’ve accepted us," said Ken.
They’ve got great weather and don’t have to worry with the hurricanes they faced in South Florida, but Georgia does have one setback. "We’re concerned about the state income tax and I think its not very friendly toward the relocation of retirees," said Ken.
A bill just passed by the Georgia Senate could ease those concerns. The proposal excludes retirement income of up to $75,000 from state income tax for Georgians between 63 and 70 years old, and those over 70 would get a tax break on income of up to $100,000. "I think it would be a major move on their part, a very positive move and it would affect his state in a great many ways," said Ken.
Representatives from the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce agree. They say a state income tax break would be a big incentive in recruiting retirees to our area. "Taxes are one of the seven factors that retirees normally look at when they’re looking for a location, so this would be a major plus for us," said Alison Stokes, Triple Crown Hometown Director.
The Payton’s have about a dozen friends in Florida who are considering joining them in Valdosta, but they’re waiting to see what happens with this bill. If it fails, they’ll probably go elsewhere, and the Paytons may too. "We’re going to look at it and live here and if it affects our disposable income too much, we’ll probably move out of the state," said Ken.
They’re hoping lawmakers will vote in favor of the proposal, so they can stay in the community they’ve learned to call home.