The best-off 1 percent of Georgians, those making more than $389,000 in 2010, would receive an almost $7,800 average yearly tax decrease. In the case of a Georgian making around $40,000, taxes would rise by about $400 a year, according to preliminary estimates by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
In baseball, once you put the ball in play you don’t get another chance. But fortunately, the negative aspects of the council’s recommendations can be changed while still keeping the basic principles.
Legislators could make the following adjustments to the council’s recommendations to lessen the tax shift:
● Maintain the sales tax exemption on groceries, rather than eliminate the exemption as the Council recommends;
● Reduce the top income tax rate from the current six percent to a flat 4.5 percent rate rather than the four percent recommended by the Council;
● Re-craft the proposed personal income tax credit to give more protection to seniors and working families.
These kinds of adjustments would preserve the council’s achievements in the areas of modernization and simplification, and improve the overall tax system. Options exist to move forward with tax reform — inaction cannot be one of those options.
Sarah Beth Gehl is deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute.