Georgia Senate gives final passage to $1.1 billion income tax refund

The Georgia Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to Gov. Brian Kemp’s plan to refund more than $1 billion of surplus state funds to Georgians when they file their taxes this year.

Under House Bill 1302, which passed 47-4, single Georgians would be able to receive a $250 refund when they file their taxes, joint filers $500. The refunds would go to those who filed returns for the tax years 2020 and 2021 and the money would be available in six to eight weeks.

The bill had earlier passed the House.

Aided by a flood of federal COVID-19 relief money, the state’s economy had a strong recovery last year from a brief pandemic recession in 2020.

The state ended fiscal 2021 with a $3.7 billion surplus, and part of the leftover money went into the government’s savings account. But Kemp, who is up for reelection this year, also promised to return some of the surplus to taxpayers.

House and Senate leaders included $1.6 billion for the refund in their midyear budget that Kemp signed on Wednesday. However, a state fiscal report last week said the cost would be closer to $1.1 billion.

Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Buford, one of the governor’s floor leaders, told colleagues Wednesday that the refund backed up Kemp’s belief that “when government takes in more money than it needs, the surplus funds should go back to taxpayers. They know best how to spend their hard-earned money.”