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October 18, 2007
Albany -- Georgia's Speaker of the House of Representatives wants lawmakers to shake up the way you pay your taxes. Speaker Glenn Richardson is proposing that Georgia eliminate property taxes and institute a statewide sales tax on all goods and services.
Many local government leaders across the state oppose his plan, saying it is a power grab by Atlanta leaders.
Richardson is touring the state saying those local government bodies are spending out of control, overtaxing property owners. Speaker Richardson told the Albany Rotary Club that a speech about property taxes is usually dull, but the room was full of businessmen, local politicians, and taxpayers leading revolts about property tax increases.
Richardson says his plan is Georgia's repeal of every ad valorem tax. "Government should be funded based upon your ability to pay and how much you spend."
His plan calls for a sales tax of eight cents on every dollar spent for goods and services, while dropping all property taxes and exemptions. Richardson said many of the 1,200 plus tax entities in Georgia have increased spending by sixty or seventy percent, and that change is needed to stop the burden on property owners.
"They want to keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it, at your expense. That's how we got in this mess, and that's why we ought to change it."
Richardson will propose the change during the next legislative session, and it is sure to be a hot topic of debate. State School, city and county leaders fear sales taxes revenues could fall, cutting the money they have. Richardson says Georgia has changed dramatically since the current property tax method was set up in 1937, and that home owners are paying too much of the burden.
Dougherty County commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said Richardson's proposal has not been written, and does not spell out exactly how it will fund local concerns. "The taxpayers need to know where their money is going to go and if they are going to get it back."
Richardson said his proposal will be introduced in January, to let voters decide on how they are taxed. "All we are voting on is whether Georgians should get a chance to vote. I think it's do well, but we will see in January."
Most of the Albany civic club gave Richardson a standing ovation after his speech. Commissioner Lamar Hudgins says he has concerns about state mandates on local government, but knows property owners want change. "I feel if it makes it to the ballot, I think it will pass."
Richardson joked about the growing opposition to his tax change plan, and knows it will make for a lively legislative session in Atlanta.
Glenn Richardson says his sales tax plan would increase tax collections from illegal immigrants working in Georgia, who don't pay income tax.