By Ernie Suggs and Nancy Badertscher
In one of the last votes of the 2010 General Assembly session late Thursday, lawmakers eliminated a low-income tax credit for the poor.
Republicans argued that this would only affect people who pay no income taxes. “If you don’t pay taxes, why should you be getting a refund back?” asked Rep. James Mills (R-Gainesville).
Democrats argued that the low income tax credit was put in place in 1988 when the state sales — paid by all Georgians, regardless of income — was raised by one cent. “If we take this away without full debate, we would be hurting the poorest of the poor,” said Rep. DuBose Porter (D-Dublin), a candidate for governor.
The bill passed the House 97 to 62.
Earlier in the evening, it looked like the low-income credit might survive. The Senate scrapped a bill that maintained the refundable portion of the low-income tax credit for people who earn less than $20,000 annually. But less than two hours later, Republicans tacked on an amendment to another bill that would kill the refund.
The bottom line now is that low-earning Georgians, many of whom are seniors, will no longer get a tax credit refund. The Senate voted 40-9 to approved HB 1069.