No free rides in tax reform effort

Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:

● Tax code revision needs a father — an advocate with passion explaining what we’re trying to achieve — beyond, of course, the buzz words. Gov. Nathan Deal, the only elected official who qualifies, may or may not want to make this his issue. But if Republicans intend to create and give philosophical grounding to the vision Deal expressed in his State of the State — “We are now entering an era of smaller government and personal responsibility” — the tax code is a primary instrument.

● Deal should pick and choose from, but not on a dare take intact, the suggestions of the 11-member Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness. No change should be called “reform” until it’s done. Then taxpayers can judge whether the changes proposed best serve those who pay — or those who spend. The spenders will find the proposals most attractive.

● An expansion of the sales tax to services, one of its recommendations, is a Pandora’s box with nearly unlimited potential to fund the growth of government. Whether Democrats or Republicans are in power, a sales tax on services is always a favorite of those who think politicians need more “flexibility” in raising revenues. It’s not something Georgians should embrace casually — and if it’s ever embraced at all, it should be limited and capped by the state Constitution.

● What’s so bad about a tax on services? As the 11-member panel notes, at least 166 services are taxed by one or more states. If you’re among those who believe that government needs more easily obtainable money, or if you believe that some professions are greedy and need to be punished by government, a tax on services is the ticket. The tax revision panel listed haircuts and services provided around the home, like maintenance, repairs and lawn care, as tax candidates. Bet the farm that whenever politicians need money, some other service will be taxed — and tax targets will not be able to resist because they are too few in number or are an as-yet-unformed class, like for example the currently soaked visitors renting cars at Atlanta’s airport.

● The special council’s tax recommendations do have some home runs. One is to examine the effectiveness of 30 tax credits given to promote economic development, conservation and low-cost housing. “The limited analysis that has been done [on economic development credits] suggests that only a small percentage of the jobs that received a tax credit were created because of the credit.” For low-income housing it was estimated at 30 cents of housing units for every tax credit dollar. Georgia really should find ways to stop tax giveaways to corporations and to developers. Lower and gradually eliminate the corporate income tax, but require everybody to pay their way for community upkeep and for public education. No free rides. Personal responsibility. Corporate responsibility.

● The council recommends lowering the personal and corporate income top rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. Yes, that rewards work over consumption, but unless it’s part of a working plan to eliminate the income tax entirely, the price in terms of taxes added is too high. I’d part with the tax exemption on groceries (which saves taxpayers between $472 million and $649 million per year), with the gimmicky “sales tax holidays” ($36 million-$47 million), with the exemption by 2016 of retirement income from the state income tax ($270 million) and commit the “savings” to eliminating the income tax — if, in fact, there’s a plan to take the rate, or even the corporate rate, to zero. About half the state’s revenue comes from the income tax.

● The standard deductions on Georgia’s income tax should be changed from $2,300 for singles and $3,000 for marrieds, set in 1981, to match the feds. That sum is $5,700 for singles and $11,400 for marrieds. Georgia’s code punishes marriage. All tax policy should encourage marriage, work and personal responsibility.

74 comments Add your comment


January 13th, 2011
7:26 pm

Pick a topic? Every bullet point has the word tax in it.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 13th, 2011
8:22 pm

Good evening all. At outset I declare my bias in favor of the models used by Texas and Florida and Tennessee, all sales tax and no income tax.

(1) Cutting state services, i.e. government payrolls, should always be the first avenue pursued to reduce deficits. Other than police and related services, there is not much government does that ought to be done. And there is a lot of police service – personal drug use – that ought not be done. DUI ought not be enforced, merely prosecute severely when there is a vehicular death.

(2) One of the most obvious revenue “enhancements” available is in the court system. Punishing wrong-doers is a function of the state. I would wish to see the legislature to declare a 98% tax on the “punitive damages” (or any similar “exemplary damages”) element of any civil judgment. Grant the private prosecuting attorney the remaining 2% as a finder’s fee. I see several beneficial economic effects from such a program.


January 13th, 2011
8:29 pm

There are too many people that pay no taxes. Any equalization of the tax code is an improvement.

the original and still the best John Galt

January 13th, 2011
9:38 pm

The Sales tax was passed as a tax on retail sales of tangible personal property. Over the years it has been expanded to include leases, including car rentals, and, in a major court case brought by a Cobb County taxi operator, taxation of rides in taxicabs as a lease, of however short duration, was upheld.

Expanding the Sales Tax to include services is getting pretty far away from the intent of the original law, and opens up a whole new set of problems in enforcement. The previous Revenue Commissioner has been unable to even quantify the amount of the tax that should be due under the current law; with even fewer personnel there is no way that the tax can be effectively administered.

Outside the Perimeter

January 13th, 2011
9:40 pm

Gotta go with Ragnar on this one. I’m in favor of all Sales and Use taxes vis-à-vis an income tax. Why do you think my wife and I are Florida-bound this late summer? No state Income Tax on retirement income. That’s a chunk of money in our case. OOPS! I forgot. The “poor” and “aged” will be affected by having to pay some tax. My, my…isn’t it just best to live off someone else? As yet I haven’t had one of that class come up and tell me it’s my fault they’re “poor.” The aged? Well that’s for another day.


January 13th, 2011
9:54 pm

Good riddance OTP. You’ll fit in quite well.


January 13th, 2011
9:54 pm

How many would that be, Lawrence?


January 13th, 2011
9:56 pm

Ragnar, a bit envious of attorneys? Your suggestion is nonsense.


January 13th, 2011
10:00 pm

Wooten, any tax on service will simply be passed along. WTF with punishing “greedy” professions. Don’t you believe in the free market, or are you just another conservative hypocrite?


January 13th, 2011
10:00 pm

I feel better already. F**k the right wing.

One Voice

January 13th, 2011
10:37 pm

People still read this silly column? Apparently not many.

Americans pay less in taxes now than they have at any time in the last 70 years, including the “Golden Era” of the fifties when the wealthiest Americans paid more than twice as much in taxes as the current highest tax bracket which is now about 34%. Georgians already pay less in taxes than all but about 5 states. If low taxes were the panacea for all of society’s ills, as conservatives would have us believe, then Georgia would not have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, it would not be at the bottom in education (since it wouldn’t matter if we funded public schools), and we wouldn’t be near the very top in foreclosures and bank failures. We would not still be mired in a virtual economic depression when most of the rest of the country is now in recovery. We’ve tried the experiment in this state, and in the country over the last 10 years, and it has been an unmitigated disaster. How does it feel when the only thing you care about- paying little to no taxes and in turn avoiding your patriotic duties to this country- destroys the the very fabric and infrastructure of America?


January 13th, 2011
11:04 pm

Sales tax on services will lead us to a cash economy where tax evasion will not only lead to state deficits, but federal as well.


January 13th, 2011
11:59 pm

good job one voice

Unpainted Huffhines

January 14th, 2011
12:38 am

Jim says “Tax code revision needs a father — an advocate with passion explaining what we’re trying to achieve — beyond, of course, the buzz words”

The quotes the Deal “plan”
“We are now entering an era of smaller government and personal responsibility”
This quote from Deal is nothing BUT “buzz words.”

Unpainted Huffhines

January 14th, 2011
12:45 am

“personal responsibility” WTF does that mean?

Burroughston Broch

January 14th, 2011
2:07 am

@ Wells 9:54pm

About 47%, and the percentage has been rising the past four years under our progressive leaders in Washington.
If you don’t pay any tax, you don’t have any skin in the game and should have no say in the outcome.


January 14th, 2011
6:01 am

(anyone who doesnt know what PERSONAL RESPONSIBLITY is, is living in the wrong country)

TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY is the message!

Implement the FAIRTAX for the nation AND Georgia and watch the biggest economic boom in the history of the world.


January 14th, 2011
7:32 am

One Voice is right and Wooten is beyond wrong, he’s irrational to the point of fetishism. In the case of what’s being debated here, Georgia’s state taxes, the lowest 20% of income earners pay 11.7% of their income in taxes. Georgia’s tax burden diminishes as income rises, with the top 20% paying about 7.5% after deducting the federal tax offset. The top 1% pays 5.7%, and after the federal tax offset. If Wooten and the other tax fetishists get Georgia’s income and corporate taxes removed, the top 20% will be paying just over 3% and the top 1%,not even 2% in state tax. And if the grocery tax exemption is removed, the bottom 20% will see a large spike in their taxes. See

Frankly, I’m at a loss to understand these tax fetishists. There’s nothing in the Judeo-Christian tradition that supports such callous cruelty towards the “least among them.” Nor is such dramatic income inequality good for society as a whole. Gross economic inequalities lead to poorer life outcomes and more generalized unhappiness at all income levels. All income levels. Meanness does not make people happy or prosperous. For a scientific explanation of this phenomena I recommend “The Spirit Level.” Maybe it all goes back to their toilet training, I don’t know, but they are beyond reason and present an ongoing assault on our great nation and its moral underpinnings.

Churchill's MOM

January 14th, 2011
7:59 am

Our state has a SPENDING problem. Why is the legislature concerned about a “revenue neutral” tax change? simple pay off to the Deal financial supporters. Georgia will pay a high price for its failure to elect Karen Handel.

Tax Gluten

January 14th, 2011
8:03 am

“Personal responsibility. Corporate responsibility”

But then he repeats himself. (Corps are now persons according to the conservative infection of our Courts).

Tax Gluttons need to tax gluten and that should end all of America’s ills. Alergic reactions to gluten, which is in nearly all of our packaged groceries, causes the healthcare crisis which is stunting our GDP (and twisting our BVDs). Google Gluten-free diet and follow the instructions and save America.

There. I’ve solved all of our problems in 25 words or less. You horrid trolls should take note: keep it short, don’t post more than twice a day, and of course, most importantly, go stick your heads in the toilet because you really really stink. (Yes, it’s the gluten, you morons).



January 14th, 2011
8:05 am

You all cry for lower taxes and them condem the 47% who pay no fed tax? You should be holding them up as heros.

Tax Gluten

January 14th, 2011
8:40 am

One thing about taxes: it only takes one paycheck into the upper brackets to turn a rabid liberal into a staunch christian conservative.

Yes, we’re all THAT shallow. But since the odds of any of us making any more than minimum wage is like, slim and none, we stay dumbocraps.


January 14th, 2011
8:53 am

Let me help you folks who are confused as to the meaning of “personal responsibility.” It means “whatever government subsidies I get, I deserve.” God forbid the government get involved in your medicare, you paid 1/3 of what you’ll get from it, so you’re entitled!!! Soak the lazy 25 year olds working two jobs to feed their family while you play shuffleboard in Palm Beach.

I do agree with Jim that the government should encourage marriage. Unlike Jim, I’m not a social engineer who thinks only my personal definition of marriage should be subsidized. Why should hard-working gays pay taxes supporting deadbeats in “traditional” marriages, while being denied those same benefits?


January 14th, 2011
8:54 am

Not sure these tax revision proposals are on target yet. A sales tax on services is a worse idea than Prohibition; no way, never is the only sensible policy. Thousands if not millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens would be enticed into criminal activity, and the big corporations will find ways to skirt the tax which means it will impact individuals and small businesses the hardest.

In NY (and likely elsewhere), corporations engage in schemes where they put contract service workers on their payrolls, from an employment/tax perspective, and contract out the management of those workers (including the hiring, firing, payroll services, etc.), thus avoiding the sales tax on services that would be paid to a contractor providing the services directly. Instead of Contractor X providing a sevice to client Company Y using Contractor X’s workers billable at say $150/hr., Contractor X hires the workers but opens a bank account for Company Y and puts these workers on Company Y’s payroll, billing Company Y only a management fee (say, $50/hr worked); thus Company Y avoids paying sales tax on the payroll cost of those workers. Contractor X will even run the payrolls for these workers, in the name of Company Y, and file all the employment paperwork, taxes, etc. Small business owners in service industries and companies providing services to the general public are disproportionately subject to the tax as a result.

Frankly 'Frank'

January 14th, 2011
9:02 am

‘Casper’ was the “Friendly Ghost”.

Georgia’s friendly ghosts’ who created most of the various tax schemes that support our present governments’ would say:

“Return the “tax schemes” to the status they were when we created them”.

EXAMPLE: When a Georgia sales tax was implemented there were no exemptions and the rate was less than half what it is today.

EXAMPLE: When Georgia property was first taxed there were no exemptions and the rate was a fraction of what we now pay.

Billy Bob

January 14th, 2011
9:21 am

Hey Wooten, regarding your proposal to change the standard exemption for a single person and a married couple, does it cost a married couple twice as much to live as a single person? Don’t think so. The largest single expense for most folks is housing and a married couple doesn’t pay twice as much for housing as a single person. How about we use the Poverty level income standard of the federal government as the standard deduction for single, married, head of household, etc. I think that would be fair and logical. You repubtards are as stupid as the dumbocrats and just as much in favor of having a welfare class, just that your welfare class is a different group. Have a great day.


January 14th, 2011
9:29 am

“does it cost a married couple twice as much to live as a single person? Don’t think so.”

Have you EVER been married??? Probably not, judging by your post.

Most people, virtually all I would expect, do not decide to get married in order to reap the “benefits” of tax policy. If any do, they are some of the stupidest people on the face of this earth.


January 14th, 2011
9:30 am

If you people would just open your New Republican Bibles, this whole issue would become clear. The economy is the most important thing in our lives. We need sacrifice.

Open your New Republican Bible, vs 1:1, “All poor people shall sell all of their possessions and give the money to a rich man.”

You see, this is how our system works. Our rich people need nourishment. We need a strong economy, our rich need more money.

Our Georgia legislature is coming through big time.

They took away the Homeowners property tax exemption. I gladly forked over $600 more in taxes in two years. Its great and helps the rich.

Georgia Power is hungry for money. They just got a great gift from the legislature. But is it enough? Georgia Power Residential customers are the only ones paying for the new reactors, the other utilities involved were not given permission to pre pay. Maybe us Georgia Power customers could pay for the whole darn thing. I’m willing.

How to solve the transportation problem? Easy. The rich shouldn’t have to wait in traffic. The state is now giving the rich new Lexus Lanes. This allows us to build more roads for the rich. The poor don’t mind waiting in traffic as long as they see rich people speeding past you. Good job Republicans. If the rich don’t wait in traffic i consider the problem solved.

Remember poor people, the revised Republican Bible doesn’t like your odds on getting to heaven. All the rich people have reservations. Its going to be fun watching all the poor people try to fit through that needle eye.

Get over it poor people, God loves the rich now.


January 14th, 2011
9:32 am

Expanding on Ragnar’s comments at 8:22 pm 1/13/11.

Lets just forget about doing anything on taxes for a couple of years. Just leave taxes alone. Instead lets cut the size of state government!

What do we need state government to do at a minimum?

Answer that question and get rid of the unneeded services now provided by state government. Lets get rid of duplication for a starter.

For example – We have 159 sheriff departments in Georgia. We have hundreds of city and county police departments in Georgia. Do we really need a state patrol to patrol Georgia highways? Do we need the duplication?

After we cut the size of state government we can then take a look at changing the tax structure. If we reduce the revenue required to operate the state, we can then lower the taxes of all.

Easy Money

January 14th, 2011
9:41 am

Love watching my $3400 bonus allow me to barely take $2000 home. F’n crock….

BS Aplenty

January 14th, 2011
10:05 am

It’s clear that the federal government has the power under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution “…to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States;…” which is further clarified by the Sixteenth Amendment. All due respect to previous posters, but if the federal government CAN tax income, they SHALL. To my mind, we must enforce spending limits that constrain our elected thieves and that will depend on the citizenry. If we become complacent, then the elected thieves will be running the store.

Road Scholar

January 14th, 2011
10:09 am

One voice and Vietvet: excellent posts

“Tax code revision needs a father …”
Jim is still practicing sexual discrimination? Could a mother for the bill help? Nuture the changes… What about a “champion” or “guru” or a czar…Oh, that’s tooooooo Democratic!

BS Aplenty

January 14th, 2011
10:12 am

Let me add that as citizens of this great country we will also have to exercise restraint in what we ask government to provide, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security (although this comes with the caveat that we are specifically billed for this pension) and Defense.


January 14th, 2011
10:14 am

I worked for Ga Department of Revenue for 30 plus years. In the 1990’s Georgia tried to put sales tax on various services, and included tax on sale of vehicles between private citizens (repealed within a year of implementation). What a public uproar all of this caused. Needless to say, the Department of Revenue had insufficient resources to assure compliance, and the legislature did nothing to help. Do we need to go down this road again?

Dr. Stan (The Black One)

January 14th, 2011
10:24 am

If the New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions have anything to say about it, the Tax Code revision will never experience the blessings of a father —-an advocate with passion explaining what the family of Georgians are trying to achieve — beyond, of course, the buzz words.

But Governor Nathan Deal, a father and elected official who understands the motives of the New World Order integrationist crowd and their devilish black minions, may or may not want to make an issue out of it because Georgians may not be ready to do what’s necessary.

If Republicans and others are ready to create and give philosophical grounding to the vision Deal expressed in his State of the State — “We are now entering an era of smaller government and personal responsibility” — unlike the masses of African Americans, they must confront the deceitful criminal element face to face because the Tax Code revision is in need a father…

Paid for by the Committee of Africans determined to escape the perverted pogroms of George Soros and his devilish black minions.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 14th, 2011
10:44 am

One is to examine the effectiveness of 30 tax credits given to promote economic development, conservation and low-cost housing.

I’d start with eliminating all the tax breaks. This is a tax hike masquerading as tax reform.

Not So Casual Observer

January 14th, 2011
11:59 am

The income tax is now designed to give the government information (power) on the citizens. The revenue is simply a pleasant, for the government, side effect.

I particularly love the posts that reference the “Golden Age” of the 1950’s and 60’s and the higher tax rates of that era. Their delusional reference to our now paying less taxes than ever and the conclusion that tax reates should rise is also amusing.

A better reference point would be the era prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve and the passing of the 14th Amendment. The Federal Reserve and firms such as Goldman Sachs have been sucking the money and life from this country since. The lies at the time were of low rates that would never increase – much like FDR and Social Security!

WE THE PEOPLE need to take back control of the country from the parasites in Congress and the White House who see nothing at all wrong with paying off their political supporters with our money.

The administration, in 2010, gave one million $5 Million dollar grants (a total of $5 Billion) to various companies who applied. Who would like to wager on the number of Republican contributors who were on the list of those receiving grants? I will take none for an answer.

The list will be the opposite of those car dealers closed by Chrysler and GM, who were all Republican!

There has been much talk of a SPENDING problem in Washington and Georgia – the reality is a GIVING problem. Politicians GIVING money to their friends and political allies that WE THE PEOPLE allow them to confiscate from us through the tax system(s).

Girls just want

January 14th, 2011
5:17 pm

If you make thousands in a week, then the taxes are more than most people make in a month. So, then you learn conservatism. But look how selfish it is. And the minimum wagers don’t prosper from your tax cut political focus.

one issue: tax cuts, smaller government.

another issue: justice for the 300 millions of americans who don’t make more than slave wages.

Justice should be the only issue, and republicans better get wise or first one Robespierre will rise up, and then two and then four and they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on untill there’s 300 million Robespierres. (I hope there’s that many fake beards or it just wont be the same. Wait, that’s Rasputin. Damn it! I always get my evil geniuses mixed up!)



January 14th, 2011
6:25 pm

Personal responsibility and smaller government? Funny.

Don’t worry, your nanny criminal governments are going to continue to provide all the irresponsible “parents” with SEX OFFENDER Registries so they can continue to “protect children”. As if.

People who are listed on a criminal governments’ Registry should continue to respond in the appropriate moral fashion to the terrorists who support the Registries. They should spend as much time as practical around children all over the country. They should do everything legally possible to ensure that the Registries are as ineffective as possible and that they waste as much time, money, effort, and other resources as possible. That is the appropriate moral response to the tyranny of the majority.


January 14th, 2011
6:49 pm

Any tax reform Deal pushes will be one which favors Big Business and puts more of a burden on the backs of the people. I can’t help but wonder how much longer Republicans will be able to sucker the mindless into voting for them.

Smarter then Jim

January 14th, 2011
8:01 pm

Nathan Deal has just barely gotten into office and already Conservatives who swear raising taxes during the election is a bad thing are already talking about raising taxes. Just goes to show that Republican in reality spells Democrat.


January 15th, 2011
10:56 am

Tuscan was a joke …..
It was a political rally, not a memrial service….

The ‘left’ still owes an apology to Mrs. Palin and all they called out……….

Obama laying in the bushes, trying to not make waves.



January 15th, 2011
11:37 am

Oh dear…sounds like FRegistry got caught with it’s hands down some 3T size pants. Darned Nanny gub’mint.

larry jones

January 15th, 2011
11:51 am

why does the cowardly lioness, neal boortz, not allow a blogging response to his insipid whining in his ajc diatribes? Ask his wife if he complains while having sex, the little man never takes a day off from bitc*ing and moaning.

Billy O

January 15th, 2011
4:10 pm

Hey Larry…..all you have to do is email Neal…..he’ll respond to you if what you say makes


January 15th, 2011
4:49 pm

Aquagirl: It seems as if you are trying to imply that I am or would be upset if our nanny governments actually prevented someone from molesting a child or punished such a person afterward. Is that the best you have? Do you have no contribution, response, or anything about what I actually said?

Here’s a suggestion for you – if you have nothing to contribute to a conversation, why don’t you just kind of stay out of it?

To what you said however, no, actually, I would be quite pleased if the criminal nanny governments would end their idiotic, immoral, counterproductive, anti-factual, often illegal, anti-religious, anti-American SEX OFFENDER witch hunt and instead concentrated just a fraction of those resources on actually attempting to reduce sexual offending. And if they would do that while spending 1/100th of what they do on the witch hunt, I would be really pleased. But none of that would be as fun as the witch hunt, would it? It wouldn’t make the terrorists feel good, would it?

Grapes of Wrath

January 15th, 2011
5:27 pm

Have to say I’m surprised that as soon as the elections are over and the Republicans are firmly ensconed in Georgia government we are shelled with this massive tax increase proposal.

I have no objection to paying some additional taxes but I’d like to see some austerity moves by the State, too. Not talking about furloughing school teachers either. I mean fundamental, permanent change. One place to start, as suggested by Gov. Deal, is to get out of the business of incarcerating minor drug offenders. We’ve lost the war on drugs, time for a new game plan.


January 15th, 2011
7:35 pm

Boortz doesn’t want comments on his column for the same reason he heavily screens the calls to his radio show, he can’t defend his nonsense BS.


January 16th, 2011
10:25 am

FRegistry: Yep, thought so. Must suck to have even bleeding heart liberals after your sorry @$$. Too bad there aren’t more enlightened folk such as yourself.

Oppression Of Sex Offenders: It’s What’s Wrong With America.

More on.....

January 16th, 2011
7:41 pm

The Falcons did exactly as I predicted. Fire the coach. He doesn’t get it.