Thursday, August 26, 2010

Georgia Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness Begins Tax Code Review

/PRNewswire/ -- Ryan, the leading tax services firm in North America, with the largest transaction tax practice in the United States and Canada, today announced that the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians ("Special Council") has begun its review of Georgia's tax code. Initiated by House Bill 1405 ("HB 1405"), which the Georgia Legislature passed earlier this year, the Special Council is tasked with studying Georgia's current revenue sources and base revenue structure. The panel, made up of business representatives, economists, and political leaders, will report findings and recommendations to the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor by January 10, 2011 when the Georgia Legislature convenes its next regular session.

"I applaud Georgia's legislative leaders for instituting the Special Council," said Georgia Representative Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta and Ryan Director. "With the full support of the House, Senate, and the Governor's Office, I believe the Special Council's work will effectively generate ideas to positively re-engineer our current system to institute policies that are fair, effective, and geared to today's economy."

The Special Council is expected to look at sales tax, current sales tax exemptions, a possible reduction in income and corporate tax, and the capital gains tax. The review is not expected to consider local property system changes or seek to impact local taxes or tax collections. A special legislative committee called the Special Joint Committee on Georgia Revenue Structure ("Joint Committee") will consider the Special Council's recommendations and will be required to introduce one or more bills in 2011 that reflect those recommendations without significant changes. The Joint Committee would have continuing jurisdiction over those bills during the legislative process.

In reviewing Georgia's tax structure, members said that they intend to compare it to tax structures in other southeast states and states which, like Georgia, have an AAA bond rating. The Special Council does not want to recommend a change that could jeopardize Georgia's bond rating. Economists from the Fiscal Research Center at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University have presented the Special Council a summary of Georgia's major state and local government taxes, along with copies of 2009 policy briefs that address the buoyancy of the sales tax, the personal income tax, and the corporate tax.

The Special Council plans to hold a series of public hearings across the state to give the public the opportunity to testify about Georgia's tax system. The hearings are scheduled for August 26th, 30th, and 31st, and September 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 9th. The Special Council has also established a Website at where information will be posted and interested parties can follow updates and view meeting notes.

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