House backs state income tax cut for most Georgians

Georgia House Ways and Means Chairman Shaw Blackmon, right, is the sponsor of House Bill 593. The House voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the measure, which would increase the standard deduction Georgians can take when filing their state income tax returns, allowing them to keep more money. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
Caption
Georgia House Ways and Means Chairman Shaw Blackmon, right, is the sponsor of House Bill 593. The House voted unanimously Wednesday to pass the measure, which would increase the standard deduction Georgians can take when filing their state income tax returns, allowing them to keep more money. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The state House overwhelmingly approved a state income tax cut Wednesday for Georgians who use the standard deduction when they file their returns.

House Bill 593, sponsored by House Ways and Means Chairman Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, would cut what filers pay by reducing the amount of income the state taxes.

The measure passed 171-0 and now heads to the Senate.

Blackmon said raising the standard deduction would cut taxes for millions of Georgians and “let them keep more of their money.”

While the tax cut would be relatively small — less than $100 for a married couple filing jointly — Blackmon told colleagues it would cost the state $140 million a year.

“I think it’s a modest first step,” Blackmon said.

If Congress passes a massive new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package — which would include more federal aid to states — a much larger state tax cut may be on the way.

Under Blackmon’s bill, the standard deduction for a single taxpayer would increase by $800, for a married couple filing a joint return $1,100. Georgians over 65 or blind would get an additional $1,300 deduction.

Just before the General Assembly suspended the 2020 session as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, pushed a plan to reduce the state income tax rate, a move that would have saved taxpayers $250 million. That tax cut went by the wayside because by the time lawmakers returned in June to finish the session, they feared revenue would plunge.

That didn’t happen, though. State revenue was up 6.3% over the first seven months of the fiscal year.

Ralston made cutting taxes a signature issue for House Republicans last fall as they worked to hold off Democratic attempts to retake control of the chamber in the November elections.

About the Author

ajc.com

Editors' Picks