ViewPoint: Tax Breaks for Whom?

April 17, 2007

This week, State House and Senate leaders worked behind closed doors to come up with a surprise property tax break for homeowners. 

Sounds like a good idea, but even the Governor questioned the wisdom of the plan.

While we generally believe tax relief for hardworking homeowners is a good thing, Georgia leaders have fallen into a disturbing pattern of passing specialized tax breaks to score political points.

Consider the state sales tax.  Over the years, lawmakers approved dozens of exemptions.  Some, like the one on groceries, are fair and smart and benefit all Georgians. 

But what about sales tax breaks on sugar for beekeepers, bait for shrimpers, or pipe organs for churches?  All those breaks cost the state 10-billion dollars a year.

And lawmakers are at it again.  The Senate has passed a dozen specialized tax breaks this year. 

One will save the Savannah Gulfstream plant millions on airplane parts at a time when its parent company's earnings are up 30-percent. 

Wouldn't that money be better spent on, say, Peachcare for Georgia kids who need health insurance?

Lawmakers promise a major overhaul of the tax system next year.  We'll accept our property tax break with a smile now, but we hope they're serious about closing some of those useless loopholes in the near future.