Poll Position: Lower sales taxes on Georgia-made products?

Today we’ll continue our series of ballot questions for next month’s primary and look at a query that will face Democratic primary voters. As reported by Peach Pundit, the fourth question on Democratic ballots will be:

Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?

From a political standpoint, this is a fascinating concept for a party doomed to be a  legislative minority until at least the next redistricting in 10 years: Democrats aren’t often associated with tax cuts; this runs counter to Georgia Republicans’ stated goal of flattening and simplifying the tax code (although it fits perfectly with what they’ve actually done); and it carries a whiff of populism and whatever the state version of nationalism is.

Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state?

  • No (43 Votes)
  • Yes (21 Votes)
  • I don't know (3 Votes)

Total Voters: 67

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But the politics of the question is secondary for now, given that only Democrats will be voting on it. Is it a good idea?

On the one hand, state government offers all sorts of tax breaks to boost economic development and job creation. Why not a sales-tax break? And with local sales taxes seeming to rise constantly (see the impending T-SPLOST vote), some kind of break on the state side of the tax might be very attractive to consumers.

Then again, the issue is probably more complicated than the question lets on. Talk to anyone in manufacturing who has to deal with “made in” requirements (usually from international trade agreements, such as NAFTA), and they’ll tell you it’s tricky. How much of the materials in the product would have to come from Georgia to qualify, or would it only matter where it was assembled? What if different components are assembled in different states (or countries)?

The reference to “small businesses” is interesting as well. You don’t need me to tell you that politicians of all stripes genuflect to the revered American Small Business, and policies that favor them seem to be popular. But would a potential law actually be written to exclude, say, Kia cars built in West Point and Mohawk rugs woven in Dalton?

There are other points on each side as well, but I want to turn it over to y’all now. Should Georgia reduce sales taxes on Made in Georgia products so as to support the growth of small businesses in our state? That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

54 comments Add your comment

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

June 8th, 2012
8:10 am

Do they charge sales tax on meth?

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

June 8th, 2012
8:12 am

dummycrats don’t support lower taxes or successful businesses so this dog ain’t gonna hunt.

td

June 8th, 2012
8:22 am

Interesting concept. Sounds good on the surface but I am still trying to figure out who had this put on the ballot.

Moderate Line

June 8th, 2012
8:26 am

You are now subsidizing industries.

Baker

June 8th, 2012
8:31 am

I hope we don’t need to buy anything made in other states, as they’ll follow suit and then we’ll have an inter-state trade war. Then the Commerce Clause gets invoked, then D.C. gets involved, then it becomes a giant mess, and things somehow get more expensive across the board.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 8th, 2012
8:32 am

Can you say Nanny State?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 8th, 2012
8:33 am

Romney = 4 Vietnam deferments??

He must be a Republican.

@@

June 8th, 2012
8:36 am

If Americans don’t buy “Made in America products”, I have no reason to believe Georgians would seek out the “Made in Georgia” label.

Employees of companies get discounts on products sold by their employers. Maybe dems are looking to…

level the buying field? Spread the benefits?

Seems like a silly proposal to me, but then most of them are.

@@

June 8th, 2012
8:40 am

Baker examines the unintended consequences.

I LIKE THAT!

Things are never as cut and dry as they seem.

Maybe there’s a hidden agenda behind this proposal, maybe not.

When it comes to politicians, always suspect.

Don

June 8th, 2012
8:42 am

So, who’s going to figure out how much GA content = “Georgia made”. How about a car assembled in GA by employees from Alabama with the drive train from Korea, glass from Ohio, steel from Pennsylvania, tires from China, and plastic from Texas? Is that “Georgia made”?

Just another “non problem” being solved by our wonderful politicians…

Real Athens

June 8th, 2012
8:52 am

Rank populism that will do nothing to support small businesses.

It will increase service calls to POS providers that every small retail business will have to call to update their registers.

JDW

June 8th, 2012
8:53 am

This is one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard. Implementation would be a nightmare and would likely cost more than any potential tax savings.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 8th, 2012
8:54 am

Wal-Mart won’t have to change a thing – it’s ALL from China.

Rafe Hollister- trying to save the Choom Gang

June 8th, 2012
9:07 am

For once in my life, I agree exactly with JDW. I’m sure it will pass, because of the intelligence of the voters; sounds good—-go for it.

@@

June 8th, 2012
9:08 am

Conceived in the USA

June 8th, 2012
9:17 am

Ever buy a Georgia-made KIA vehicle from West Point?

As a consumer, you should be GETTING PAID to have to take one of those vehicles from that company’s inventory.

Real Athens

June 8th, 2012
9:21 am

@@:

Very cool map — however, I suspect it’s woefully incomplete. I went straight to Georgia and couldn’t find the first company I thought of:

Zoom Bait Company, Bogart GA

clyde

June 8th, 2012
9:21 am

Innovative idea.Try It and see how it goes.

Florida did sort of the same thing a few years back;they removed the sales tax from boat repairs.Guess where the lion’s share of the repairs were done?

Conceived in the USA

June 8th, 2012
9:25 am

Ever buy some hip-hop or rap “music” made in Georgia?

A sucker and his/her money….

@@

June 8th, 2012
9:31 am

Real Athens:

The link invites people to notify them if a company is missing.

Don

June 8th, 2012
9:35 am

@@ at 9:31 Who is going to vet the list? Using what criteria? At what cost?

Jefferson

June 8th, 2012
9:47 am

So this is what the GA GOP legislators are all about. They rather do this than something about Atlanta’s water problems, road problems, utility problems and the state education problems. If they were not in charge I would blame who was.

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

June 8th, 2012
10:03 am

Poll Position: Lower sales taxes on Georgia-made products?
———–

No. We have too many market-distorting provisions in the tax code already.

Kyle Wingfield

June 8th, 2012
10:11 am

Jefferson: As usual, you’ve proven that you just want to register a partisan complaint instead of reading the post. This ballot question was written by the Democratic Party of Georgia.

Baker

June 8th, 2012
10:36 am

@Jefferson: I refer you to please register your complaint with Arthur Blank. So that hotel/ motel tax must be used for visitors to the city? And the stadium qualifies for that? Do tourists not use the bathroom? Do they not drive or use the streets in any fashion?

Take your complaint to the GWCC Board and Arthur Blank so that we won’t waste $300/400 MILL on an unneeded stadium and instead address the serious problems that actually exist.

Grasshopper

June 8th, 2012
10:42 am

What a bureacratic nightmare – of course Dems proposed this one. I am sure that it will add another state department that will employ hundreds of lawyers to determine what qualifies as ‘Georgia Made’ and then employ hundreds more to write the rules, enforce them and prosecute those who step out of line.

Stupid,.

quick work break

June 8th, 2012
10:46 am

Don had it right. “Made In Georgia” means what? Importing products and slapping a label on it? Importing components and assembling? Raw materials? I recall a recent report on Olive Oil labeled “Product of Italy”, but was only imported prior to distribution. If there’s a way to exploit legislation, businesses will find it.

@@

June 8th, 2012
10:52 am

Don:

Weird question.

Since the contact point is ABCWorld News, I’m guessing they will.

Do you have reason to suspect ABC doesn’t wanna promote America?

Kyle:

I’m not one to offer attaboys, but you deserve one. Not gonna tell you why, just that you do. You’re better than the folks you work for.

Sorry, it had to be said.

Karl Marx

June 8th, 2012
11:15 am

NO of course not. Government will not reduce spending which means someone else will have to pick up the slack and pay more tax. If the dem’s want to pursue this in a way I might support it then reduce spending by the same amount. I have a feeling something will “Freeze Over” before anyone in government, Repub or dem, ever propose a spending reduction.

Hillbilly D

June 8th, 2012
11:29 am

Might be a good idea in theory but it’d be nearly impossible to implement, for various reasons, as pointed out in various comments above. Kyle doesn’t say who wrote this proposal but my guess is, if you track it down, that person or somebody close to that person would profit mightily from this.

I won’t get to vote on this anyway, because if I voted in the Democratic primary, I wouldn’t get to vote in choosing any of my local elected officials. Up until about 10-15 years ago, I had to vote in the Democratic primary, for the same reason. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

jms

June 8th, 2012
11:32 am

Bad idea – an implementation nightmare.

Jefferson

June 8th, 2012
11:36 am

Is there a pop quiz ?

Hillbilly D

June 8th, 2012
11:39 am

Is there a pop quiz ?

If Kyle told you, then it wouldn’t be a pop quiz. ;-)

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 8th, 2012
11:45 am

“Is there a pop quiz ?”

If there was, Jefferson, you’d fail it based on your earlier comment.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 8th, 2012
11:51 am

This question exposes the fact that Democrats in leadership positions across the state don’t really know how businesses operate.

The implementation of this would be a nightmare, whether you have a program to do your pricing and tax models (and if you control that program or lease it), and especially if you do things by hand, as some Mom & Pop shops still do.

Furthermore, what offsets are being proposed in either spending cuts or tax adjustments elsewhere if this were to be implemented?

Bad idea, but I’ll bet it won’t stop the Demwits from voting for it.

Mash

June 8th, 2012
11:54 am

Maybe we should just charge a tariff on products not made in Georgia (sarcasm). These types of things never work. It’s a bad idea.

Tiberius - Banned from Bookman's and proud of it!

June 8th, 2012
1:01 pm

Looks like this thread is officially dead . . . .

Ted

June 8th, 2012
1:15 pm

Just a quick shout out again to the literary coward Mike Luckovich was can give it, but not take it. No comments on his cartoons….ever. And his take on things is just so unpredictable! NOT.

ragnar danneskjold

June 8th, 2012
1:18 pm

I voted “no” before I read the essay – should have guessed that this was another loopy leftist idea. We do not need more complexity in the tax code. If we are to subsidize Georgia producers – and I think that is generally a terrible idea – I would prefer to see that done by specific allocation of tax revenues, so that we can control the amounts.

Sherlock

June 8th, 2012
1:40 pm

Yes. I want a tax break on my Coca-Cola purchases.

Loki

June 8th, 2012
1:43 pm

I like the concept, but this state just cannot afford lower revenues at this point.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

June 8th, 2012
1:45 pm

Bloomberg News reports today that “6.6 million young adults under age 26 joined their parents’ insurance plans in 2011 because of the U.S. health-care law, the largest one-year increase in medical coverage for the age group.”

Liz

June 8th, 2012
2:18 pm

Kyle if you spanked everyone who has intentionally posted a partisan comment to your blog, you would be a busy man, and we would all have red hind quarters.

But back to your question, while in theory this proposal would seem to encourage more business for Georgia, I really wonder if in practice would it change a buyer’s decision making? It would seem to do so only if the pricing on the Georgia made product was already competitive, and the product was at least as well made, as the out of state-imported product. Given these conditions are met, the tax break MIGHT have an impact, (but buyers generally brand loyal). It would likely depend on the cost of the item. A Gulfstream jet part, sure (aaw, but that special exemption has already been carved out).

BehindEnemyLines

June 8th, 2012
3:08 pm

No, but thanks for asking I guess.

JohnnyReb

June 8th, 2012
3:11 pm

We have Tennessee to the North and Florida South with no state income tax. Ours needs to go away ASAP. That means increased sales tax, so giving a break for Made in Georgia is a good idea.

As to subsidizing businesses; I had rather subsidize a GA business than a GA citizen with welfare. The better businesses do, the more jobs and less welfare.

Former Reagan Republican

June 8th, 2012
3:14 pm

Kyle…..Would not a higher sales tax on products made in other U.S. states be considered an internal tariff and be considered unconstitutional by the federal courts?A reduction in sales tax on Georgia products could be argued to be a rise in taxes on other products. What are your thoughts?

Old timer

June 8th, 2012
3:14 pm

Simplify… Simplify…. Simplify. The tax code is too complicated already I would rather reduce rates on food or drugs.

td

June 8th, 2012
3:29 pm

Former Reagan Republican

June 8th, 2012
3:14 pm

Good point. Never thought of it that way.

1961_Xer

June 8th, 2012
3:39 pm

The problem here, as mentioned, is determining what is “made in Georgia”, and finding someway for businesses to comply with such a law. Seems like a big headache.

For me, I would like to see this for agricultural products. If I had a choice of a Georgia tomato or a California/Chile tomato, I’d choose Georgia. Same with apples, pecans, corn, onions, peanuts, etc, etc.

This all seems like a major PITA to administer, though, and administration costs could easily overtake the sales tax itself.

Kyle Wingfield

June 8th, 2012
3:47 pm

Former @ 3:14: I don’t know the actual law on that, but your suggestion sounds very plausible to me.