Tax reform likely not on summer agenda, Sen. Chance says

He’s for “tax reform,” but the most recent proposal that threatens to add sales taxes to a host of currently untaxed services and items in exchange for reducing the state personal income tax may be too complex for the Georgia Legislature to take up this summer, according to Sen. Ronnie Chance of Tyrone.

Gov. Nathan Deal has suggested tax reform could be considered this summer when the legislature meets in special session to redraw district lines using new Census population data.

The tax reform debate was such a moving target at the end of the legislative session that Chance never saw the bill ... which was reportedly authored in a last-minute bid by House officials.

The bill was derailed in large part by a report from Georgia State University that it would actually increase taxes on middle-class residents.

Chance said he saw the “talking points” for the bill, but never saw a final version of the proposal.

“You can’t trust anyone when they say, ‘this is a great bill, trust me,’” Chance said. “... I’d like to actually read it. Nothing was ever produced for us to debate or go on.”

For the legislature to take up the matter in August, “we’re going to have to have an awful lot more information,” Chance said.

He pointed to a provision that would have eliminated the tax break on energy costs for industries, and that stood to hurt the state’s economy and ability to recruit companies from elsewhere.

Such could also negatively impact the amount of jobs in the state, and officials need to be cognizant of that, Chance said.

Chance added that he does support the concept of tax reform, and he has quite a few constituents who have contacted him in support of the initiative. Some of those supporters contend the increased sales taxes would capture more revenue from illegal immigrants whose income taxes might not be flowing to the state.

“I think most people feel a consumption-based fair tax is much more palatable,” Chance said.

While Chance said he supports the tax reform, the legislature needs to take time to make sure it’s handled appropriately.

Proponents claim the increase on sales taxes would allow the state to decrease the personal income tax rate from 6 percent to as low as 4 percent.

Opponents charge, however, that doing so will shift the tax burden to the middle class.

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