Lawmakers propose to eliminate income tax - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers propose to eliminate income tax

November 17, 2006

Albany -- Pretty soon you'll get your federal and state income tax forms in the mail. Wouldn't it be nice not to have to pay those state taxes?

Republican leaders in the State House of Representatives proposed the idea, but critics say their idea to eliminate the tax is shortsighted.

It's sure to be a hot topic when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. Republican State House leaders want to do away with the state income tax. They haven't offered details yet, but say they'd like to do it in four years.

Republican Representative Richard Royal has served on the House Ways and Means committee for 20 years. He says he wants to see concrete numbers on how Georgians would benefit before he'll support this idea.

"Let's see what the specifics are for the legislation. I think we need to know what the details are, where we're going to get the additional dollars to cover those that we're going to save the taxpayers through income tax exemptions," said State Representative Richard Royal.

He isn't totally opposed to eliminating personal income tax, but since it makes up nearly half of Georgia's more than $18 billion budget, Royal says it probably couldn't work unless a lot of current tax exemptions were eliminated.

"I certainly support income tax phase out. I think it would have to be done over a period of years though to be possible with the type of revenue we're talking about replacing," said Royal.

Darton College economists Dr. Amit Singh says the current system is working and that the new proposal may not help all of Georgia.

"Well if you don't have income tax you will be blessed with something else, and that something else going to be most likely sale tax, and maybe property tax. So if you include more sales tax what you are doing is hurt people in the lower income tax bracket," said economist Amit Singh.

Singh says lawmakers should be cautious about changing the six percent that most Georgians are taxed on their income.

"First of all it's reasonable. The percentage is not too high, and it's flat for the most part. So in my view I think it's working fine, and I don't see why you want to change it when there's nothing really wrong with it," said Singh.

State Representative Royal doesn't know yet where revenue from the income tax would be made up should it be eliminated. But regardless the money will have to come from somewhere, even if Georgians are taxed more heavily in another area.

Nine states don't have income taxes, including Florida and Tennessee. Economist Amit Signh says some of those states rely heavily on their tourism industry to make up their budget. He says that industry in Georgia isn't strong enough bring big money here.

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