Don’t let D.C. dictate how to reform Georgia’s tax laws

The warning had an ominous ring to it.

It was a month too early for Halloween, but here was someone from the nation’s capital, telling an Atlanta audience about apparitions in the halls of Congress.

“Washington is being haunted by the specter,” said the Heritage Foundation’s William Beach, “of tax reform.”

If that doesn’t give you the willies, consider that any changes the feds make will have an echo effect in Georgia. For simplicity’s sake — mark this occasion, because you won’t often read “simplicity” and “tax laws” in the same sentence — our tax laws incorporate many federal rules.

So, whatever Washington does in the way of tax reform will hit you once on your federal taxes, and then again on what you pay the state. If you’re a Georgia lawmaker dithering about reforming the state’s tax code, Beach suggested, that prospect really ought to scare you straight.

“If you do nothing today, absolutely nothing, in 2013 you will get tax reform,” Beach said Sept. 30 at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s annual Legislative Policy Briefing. “It will come from the federal government. And you will be able to do nothing about it, unless you decouple from the federal tax system.”

Beach said that in 20 years of analyzing tax bills — now there’s a task you can be thankful someone else performs — he has “never been busier” with proposals to vet with his economic models. The general drift is in the direction of flatter, broader and simpler. That means fewer deductions and exemptions, paving the way for lower rates.

And that, in turn, means changes are in store for Georgia’s own tax structure.

By my count, the part of Georgia law that determines a person’s taxable income contains, by itself, three dozen references to federal tax law. The way the state treats your dependent child’s unearned income, deductions for school teachers and a whole lot in between hinges in some way on what the feds do.

Exactly what they’ll do remains to be seen. Beach said last month that the plan most likely to win favor is the one championed by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Dan Coats, R-Ind. But that was before Herman Cain, with his 9-9-9 plan, shot to the top of a couple of national GOP primary polls.

In either case, large chunks of the Internal Revenue Code could be erased at once.

Some of Georgia’s legislative leaders, including Speaker David Ralston, say tax reform tops the agenda for next year’s session. But Ralston isn’t yet committing publicly to a particular version of reform, and other lawmakers say they’re unsure which changes stand a real chance of becoming law.

There seems to be an inclination to keep the changes small. Here’s a suggestion: Go big.

Shoot for the fewest number of exemptions and lowest rates possible — both for individuals and corporations. Justify the ones that are worth keeping on their own merits, as they relate to Georgia. (There shouldn’t be many that pass muster.)

Then, when Washington does whatever it’s going to do — or if reform efforts end up losing steam — we will have done what makes sense for us. But let’s not assume we have time to waste.

“If you know your neighbor has loaded the gun and is coming after you,” Beach said, “you don’t just sit there and welcome his visit. You prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for tax reform in the same way.”

– By Kyle Wingfield

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140 comments Add your comment


October 14th, 2011
6:44 pm

Kyle: “So, whatever Washington does in the way of tax reform will hit you once on your federal taxes, and then again on what you pay the state.”

That sure sounds like the effect of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 14th, 2011
7:05 pm

MarkV- Keep your racist comments to yourself.

Hillbilly D

October 14th, 2011
7:07 pm

I’m all for tax reform, on both the state and federal level. The problem is, though, every time I can remember any talk about tax reform in Georgia, it’s always been a tax increase, disguised as tax reform. I never have trusted the boys under the Gold Dome, regardless of whether it was the D’s or the R’s running the show.

Bart Abel

October 14th, 2011
7:45 pm

Unfortunately, “tax reform” or “tax simplification” efforts are generally guises for the true goal of raising taxes on the poor and middle class and cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy. This was true for the changes considered by the Georgia legislature last year (proposed by the committee headed by A.D. Fraiser). This was true for the Paul Ryan plan that every Republican voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives. And it’s true of the 9-9-9 tax proposal developed by Koch brothers flunkey and pushed by one of the leading Republican presidential nominees.


October 14th, 2011
7:59 pm

I Report @7:05 pm

Keep your stupid comments to yourself.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward)

October 14th, 2011
8:13 pm

Any tax reform that doesn’t include having all Americans who benefit from living in this country paying their fair share (10% of AGI minimum) is not really tax reform.

Time to eat your peas, free riders.


October 14th, 2011
8:36 pm

Never thought I’d say this, but I agree with Lil’ Barry. He is correct that ALL AMERICANS SHOULD PAY THEIR FAIR SHARE.

For the benefit of Mr. Wingfield, this means if you make 250K annually, you will still pay your standard tax rate, it is when you make the next $250K is when the President’s tax reform bill would impact. However, if you make $250K annually how do you expect to pay what say I do, who earns 90K?

Pretty simple math too me. It’s not 9-9-9, and it will save the country, YA THINK?


Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward)

October 14th, 2011
8:48 pm

In general, the only folks who aren’t paying their “fair share” are the ones who are paying zero.

Your Idiot Messiah has no tax reform plan. He has an income redistribution plan, from folks who work for a living to folks whose votes he wants.

People who make $250K annually are already paying much, much more than you, so quit whining, you greedy lib.

ragnar danneskjold

October 14th, 2011
8:54 pm

Good evening all. Federal spending in FY 2010, excluding medicare and social security, was $2.5 trillion. Divide that by 300,000,000 Americans, and each man, woman, and child has a fair share of Federal spending a little more than $8,000 per year. (And, by the way, only $700 billion of that was for national defense.) The last budget passed before the republicans were kicked out of Congress totaled (again, excluding socsec and medicare) less than $1,8 trillion. Not nothing, to be sure, but that has increased 40% since 2007. Spending is the problem.


October 14th, 2011
9:16 pm

Why shouldn’t they dictate our tax laws? They dictate practically every thing else, from education to speed limits to congressional districts to voting laws to environmental laws to monetary policy to drug laws…Nullification was used to help end the fugitive slave laws in the 1800s. It has been a proud tradition in our country since its founding. It is high time our spineless legislature stood up for the rights of Georgians, threw off the shackles of the empire, and started nullifying federal laws that are unconstitutional and violate the rights of the citizens of GA – yeah, like freedom is anything our legislature cares anything about.


October 14th, 2011
9:28 pm

The state of GA needs to either abolish the income tax in favor of a state sales tax similar to TN, FL, and TX or go with a flat tax of 10% across the board. If you go with a flat tax, the only individuals who would have to file taxes would be those who are self-employed. For those who work for an employer it is really none of the government’s business how much income you make. A state sales tax or a flat tax would eliminate this intrusion into the personal affairs of residents of GA.


October 14th, 2011
9:31 pm

Why does the Republican mantra, it’s your money, your should to be able to keep all you can of it, not apply to the poor and middle class? It is immoral to broaden and flatten the tax rate system, just to lower the top rates. Because the whole Republican is based on being “revenue neutral” (meaning the government will get no extra taxes, if the tax bills proposed should pass). It is all about wealth redistribution, making sure the wealthy have even more. “Simpler” is just propaganda, for the simple minded to buy into this immoral plan.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward)

October 14th, 2011
9:45 pm

The Republican plans I’ve seen that aim for revenue neutrality don’t reimpose taxes on the free riders (i.e. the Democrat base). If the Idiot Messiah wants to increase tax revenues and insists on increasing confiscation of private property, then the parasite free riders who currently pay zero are going to have to start paying income taxes again.


October 14th, 2011
9:53 pm

It is truly disgusting to read so many advocating more taxes for more people instead of cutting and cutting and cutting government spending. Those functions that government currently monopolizes (that are actually wanted by the private sector) will be picked up and performed on a competitive business basis or through non-profit or charity functions. Those that have no purpose or support will go away. How hard is that to understand. There is no money left. Every taxpayer is in debt to the Federal Government to the tune of anywhere from $132,000 to over $1 million depending on whether you count the unfunded liabilities, and to the bankrupt state of GA to the tune of another $5,000. There MUST BE CUTS. Why is this so hard to understand?? The envy, covetousness and immorality are beyond belief.

Yes, if you do not keep all of the fruits of your labor, then you are a slave. That is not to say that you must pay for those services you receive as any consumer must, but the system must be voluntary. Again, anything else is slavery. The class envy, warfare, etc. that the democrats and far too many republicans foster in this country is just a scheme to keep everyone from seeing what criminals both parties are when it comes to our freedoms and our liberties.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Unexpectedly Revised Downward)

October 14th, 2011
10:31 pm

Obama pulls plug on part of health overhaul law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration Friday pulled the plug on a major program in the president’s signature health overhaul law – a long-term care insurance plan dogged from the beginning by doubts over its financial solvency.

Your Idiot Messiah is admitting that he’s a failure.

Take a step closer to that washtub full of Koolaid, losers.


October 14th, 2011
11:19 pm

I read the tripe in here and just roll my eyes. You people are clueless. We don’t have the revenue, now to support the military industrial complex and everything that Americans demand. We are lowering the taxes on the wealthy to the point where we can’t fund what all of you conservatives want. You whine that the Democratic base is milking the system when hello — mostly white Southern poor conservatives are on the dole. It’s freaking lunacy.


October 15th, 2011
12:40 am

Why Can’t Government Be Held Accountable?!?!?

Tell Us What Happened To The Money You Had, First!

Second, At Least Act Like A Lesson Was Learned… Please!


October 15th, 2011
2:37 am

I’m agreeing with Steve this morning.

Michael H. Smith

October 15th, 2011
6:03 am

Shoot for the fewest number of exemptions and lowest rates possible — both for individuals and corporations. Justify the ones that are worth keeping on their own merits, as they relate to Georgia. (There shouldn’t be many that pass muster.)

Kyle, Kyle, Kyle… if you can justify taxation on corporations or businesses then I’ll be nice to you rather than ask you angrily to try and JUSTIFY your ridiculous liberal statement – IMHO, There is “NO” corporate or business tax worth keeping.

Where do corporation get the money to pay taxes of any type, Kyle?

Kyle the liberal’s reply: From profits of course!

Hmm… really? That’s your answer and you’re sticking to it I suppose?

Okay, Kyle the liberal says corporations pay taxes from profits. Well enough Kyle, but where do corporations and businesses get or make those profits that your corporate taxes depend on for payments to be made?

Is the source of those profits being made not solely dependent on the sales receipts of some product or service from some corporation or business which markets them to we the INDIVIDUAL TAX PAYING CONSUMER who in turn buys them and pays as part of the purchase, those profits which pays – actually, really, no shid, no dang joke – all those corporate and business taxes?!

I boldly assert Kyle that I, nor you, can justify allowing BIG GUB’MENT forcing corporations and businesses to pay one red copper in taxes. Which in complete straightforward honesty has been extracted by deceptive means, in what has and can only remain being called, the HIDDEN TAXES that WE INDIVIDUAL TAX PAYING CONSUMERS PAY!

The reason I love the Fair Tax is my intense hatred of the government’s hidden tax it forces corporations and businesses to fraudulently extort from us.

Yes indeed Judge Andrew Napolitano, government is a lair and a thief.

Genuine tax reform Kyle, would eliminate all hidden taxes and fees, along with ending all deductions and subsidies. This is the only “honest” means by which government should be allowed to exist and operate.

That’s my conservative answer and I’m sticking to it Kyle.


October 15th, 2011
6:22 am

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
― Mark Twain

Karl Marx

October 15th, 2011
6:24 am

“If you know your neighbor has loaded the gun and is coming after you,” Beach said, “you don’t just sit there and welcome his visit. You prepare yourself. Prepare yourself for tax reform in the same way.”

AMEN BROTHER, and don’t forget this,

“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the Legislature is in session”

Tax reform in Georgia always means a big tax increase as it was with the tax deform legislation last year. The only reason they didn’t pass it was they didn’t have time to deflect the blame to someone else TEA PARTY WHERE ARE YOU?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 15th, 2011
6:29 am

A brand new quagmire in Uganda for our Nobel Peace prize winner?


October 15th, 2011
6:31 am

Mark Twain once told the story of friend that had become severely depressed, and had blown his brains out with a gun. Twain was happy to report that his friend had survived. He served several terms in congress, and eventually went on to become a useful citizen.

Michael H. Smith

October 15th, 2011
6:32 am

What part of the socialist liberal evil, wicked, immoral, vile, PROGRESSIVE TAX don’t these idiots fail to understand when they speak of paying a “fair share”?

A) What is 10% of $50K?

B) What is 10% of $250K?

C) Is the amount from (A) equal to the amount from (B)?

According to socialist liberal ZERObama math the amount from (B) is less than the amount from (A).

Flat tax, no deduct, no subsidies… you bet! And, my 10% or 15% will be a hell of a lot less in terms of actual dollars paid, than the actual UNFAIR SHARE dollar amount that Warren Buffet will have to pay at 10% or 15% !

Try occupying, say, the truth for a change. :roll:


October 15th, 2011
6:34 am

Off-topic. GOTCHA!!!!

I never thought we’d be able to get this guy.

Lovejoy mayor resigns to head off criminal inquiry, DA confirms

Lovejoy mayor resigns to head off criminal inquiry, DA confirms

The Clayton County District Attorney confirmed Friday that she is dropping a voter fraud investigation in exchange for the mayor of Lovejoy’s resignation and promise not to run again, Channel 2 Action News reports.

Channel 2 reported in September 2010 that the District Attorney’s Office had executed a search warrant at Lovejoy City Hall after allegations Mayor Joe Murphy and five others, including three of the mayor’s relatives, cast illegal votes in the 2007 city elections.

Good riddance, Joe.

Thanks, Tracey!


October 15th, 2011
6:43 am

Treat all income the same, problem solved. And put the 15 million that want to work back to work.

independent thinker

October 15th, 2011
7:02 am

Do away with earned income tax credits that allows people who work r minimally to get money in tax refunds based on the number of childrenthey claim . Even illegals have been collecting money in this redistribution scheme,

My Wall Street & Corporate Greed

October 15th, 2011
7:08 am

Barack Obama (D)
Top Contributors

Goldman Sachs $1,013,091

Microsoft Corp $852,167

Google Inc $814,540

JPMorgan Chase & Co $808,799

Citigroup Inc $736,771

Time Warner $624,618

Sip On Sales Tax

October 15th, 2011
8:13 am

just think about this…….how much did you pay in sales tax last year?

At least you can look and see on a tax return! A sales tax system equals more tax…….

and one more thing….don’t make the mistake of thinking every person with money paying a high income tax rate actually “worked” or “earned” it!! Let the rich keep getting richer…one day it won’t be the government taking their riches it will be the poorer masses!!

B. Morris

October 15th, 2011
8:23 am

Wall Street is no more greedy than the folks who want something for nothing.

I took a real estate class at Georgia State. The professor wanted to lay the blame for the housing collapse on Wall Street. He and I argued the point. After countless attempts to lay the blame on F&F, where it belonged, I asked him–”Would this have happened if there’d been no F&F?” His answer was an emphatic “Absolutely not.”

Professor Moron.


October 15th, 2011
8:28 am

I still maintain that the problem in Georgia is not taxes. The problem is way to much government costing way to much money.

Lets forget about taxes for a year or so and concentrate on reducing the size of government.

For example: do we really need a Georgia State Patrol? We have 159 sheriff departments, over 250 city police departments and a bunch of county police departments. Do we really need a State Patrol? Does the Governor really need a police department directly under his control?

Lets reduce the size of government and then reform taxes to fund that smaller government.


October 15th, 2011
8:31 am

Kyle, if the House and Senate come up with a revised tax plan and Obama signs it, all states have to comply. Neither Georgia or any other state can “decouple from the federal tax system”. Am I to believe that you are not aware of this?


October 15th, 2011
8:52 am

Nothing in fear is in moderation with the right, and everything has a gun involved.

The state government scares me much more than the feds if that is an attribute. Money raised for one purpose is ciphered off to another, they promote illiteracy, which promotes joblessness, which lowers the tax base spending and lifts the millage. The Feds do it better than this crowd, learn to govern or get the hell out of the way, Georgia. Right now you lead the country in every category that is involved with mismanagement. Get your own act straight then take on the federal government, they are your life support and you better hope they have a ton of money to bail you out. Where all this support from the AJC for this depressing condition call Georgia comes from is beyond understanding.


October 15th, 2011
8:55 am

ANYTIME we hear the words “tax reform,” we should be afraid…we should be VERY afraid. Fair Tax, Flat Tax, 9-9-9, no State Income Tax, all of these seem to be terrific, viable options with less government. Problem solved.


October 15th, 2011
9:03 am

B. Morris I like that idea except in the history of Georgia those sheriffs have been crooks. Speed traps, being paid off by local drug dealers, selling drugs in the jails, and in general just using their position for making ill gotten gains have created the demand of a state police. I would think the smarter thing to do is rid the system of these small time crooks and bring in more professional state wide police.

As for your Wall Street analysis. The common man got the punishment nature intended for making poor choices in buying too much home; the man on Wall Street got a multi million dollar bonus for the failure he created. I side with your professor and may add you paid all that money to learn something at Georgia State and have not been ask to teach anywhere as far as I know.

Rafe Hollister

October 15th, 2011
9:28 am

Corporate taxes unfairly fall on the poor and middle class for the same reason that you libs claim that sales tax does. Corporations pass on to consumers any and all taxes. Who drinks all the soft drinks, eats all the tater chips, and bys all the consumer junk but the working class. Eliminate corporate taxes and grow the economy.

Welcome to the occupation

October 15th, 2011
9:31 am

The free market is a sham, Wingfield. All of your pet theories lie in tatters. Get a clue.

Welcome to the occupation

October 15th, 2011
9:32 am

Rafe Hollister: “Corporate taxes unfairly fall on the poor and middle class for the same reason that you libs claim that sales tax does. Corporations pass on to consumers any and all taxes.”

Sounds like a good reason to shut them down then, fire their board, and hand them over to the people directly.

What’do you think about THAT?

Rafe Hollister

October 15th, 2011
10:14 am

If it was not for Wall Street and Corporations you would be eating tree bark and sleeping in the dirt, while resting your head on a fallen log.


October 15th, 2011
10:20 am

Welcome to the Occupation, 9:32

“What do you think of THAT?”

I think you should take your tent and your backpack and head home. You have one, don’t you? Besides, you need a bath.

Nevermind taking over a business that is owned by someone else. That is none of your business. And obviously you could not run an ice cream wagon much less a real business.

So clear off public property, moocher. Nobody owes you a thing. This country gave you freedom. So what’s your return? A blight on the city, the country and your family.

Your contribution? Nothing. Flat zero. You are part of a overbearing juvenile jumble. Be smart enough to leave a law breaking mob.


October 15th, 2011
10:20 am

To argue that corporations do not pay taxes, because they pass them on to consumers is a simplistic inanity. It is like saying that a manufacturers do not pay for materials they buy, because they pass that cost to the consumers, that they do not pay the employees who make the products, because they pass those costs to the consumers, etc. Corporations pay taxes. Those taxes are part of the cost of doing business. One can argue the effect of those taxes on competitiveness, but that is no different than discussing the effect of relative wages.


October 15th, 2011
10:30 am

Conservatives love the free market, as long as it favors their particular interest. Yesterday I heard a tape of the exchange between Herman Cain and President Clinton regarding the effect of the then Clinton plan of health care reform. Cain was arguing that the effect of the requirement to provide health insurance to all his employees would be for him to let some employees go. When Clinton argued that the same rule would apply to all competing businesses, Cain’s answer was that larger businesses could accommodate that while he could not.

I think that answer was very revealing, and one can hear the same arguments now. Suddenly the same people who praise the free market system as a panacea do not really want the market to be so free, the playing field so level. One can hear the echo of the times past in that: “We cannot do business without child labor,” or “we cannot compete without slaves.” Hypocrites.


October 15th, 2011
10:55 am

kyle is a hack and this piece stinks.


October 15th, 2011
11:11 am

“Tax Cuts For Wealthy Cost $11.6 Million Per Hour ”

The suddenly fiscal sleepwalking cons say nothing about this waste.


The 99% movement is the real deal and is going global.

Comrade MarxistV

October 15th, 2011
11:18 am

One forgot to hear the echo of: We can’t live without illegal alien labor

Yeah, damn stupid idiot liberal socialist communist hypocrite!

Ice Cream Wagon owner

October 15th, 2011
11:31 am

I stay in business because Dusty buys all my inventory when I ring my bell on her street. Just saying.


October 15th, 2011
12:09 pm

Comrade MarxistV @11:18 am: “One forgot to hear the echo of: We can’t live without illegal alien labor
Yeah, damn stupid idiot liberal socialist communist hypocrite!”

Stop insulting farmers!

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

October 15th, 2011
12:11 pm

Requiring businesses to provide freebies to employees is not an example of the “free market”. It’s an example of liberal fascism.


October 15th, 2011
12:33 pm

“Then, when Washington does whatever it’s going to do…”

Which will at most be to tinker around the edges. The Internal Revenue Code is impenetrable. We’ve railed against it for decades. President Jimmy Carter was going to dismantle it. We’ve had all the loopy gimmicks to replace it like Fair Tax, and now 9-9-9. Learn to live with the IRC, it’ll outlive all of us.

Lil' Barry Blowhard (Revised Upward)

October 15th, 2011
1:15 pm

Lil’ Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)
October 15th, 2011
12:11 pm
Requiring businesses to provide freebies to employees is not an example of the “free market”. It’s an example of liberal fascism.

What are these freebies of which you speak? If you are an EMPLOYEE you must be providing some value to the corporation.