Georgia Residents Favor Eliminating the Peach State’s Income Tax

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For the better part of five years, Georgia lawmakers have been toying with the idea of reducing or eliminating the Peach State’s income tax. While several bills have been proposed by various state legislators in the House and Senate, no step forward has been made to accomplish the goal of lowering the total tax burden on constituents. Since tax reform swept the nation in 2013, there is no better time than now for Georgia to reduce or completely eliminate its income tax.

According to a recent poll published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, 70 percent of Georgia residents that were surveyed favor the total elimination of the state’s income tax. Another 14 percent of those polled favored reducing the current rate, which sits at 6 percent for those earning over $7,000 per year. When 84 percent of residents are calling for a reduced state income tax rate, the Governor and State Legislature should listen and take note.

Even though Georgia was named the best place for businesses by Site Selection magazine last year, taxpayers still face the second-highest income tax rate in the Southeast region and twentieth-highest rate in the country, which could cause residents to relocate across state lines to the no-income-tax neighboring states of Tennessee and Florida. Another possible destination for Georgia taxpayers is North Carolina, which just passed the largest tax reform measure in the nation in 2013, effectively lowering the state’s top marginal income tax rate of 7.75 percent to 5.75 percent, with more reform still to come from Republican Governor Pat McCrory.

So what would lowering or eliminating the income tax mean for Georgia taxpayers?

For starters, the men and women who work and live in Georgia would see their after-tax earnings increase, meaning more money in their pockets. Secondly, more businesses, corporations, and individuals would relocate to and invest in the Peach State, further stimulating economic growth and creating new jobs. Florida, which doesn’t have a state income tax, saw Hertz – the worldwide leader in the rental car industry – relocate its corporate office to Lee County. Governors, legislators, and corporations around the world took notice of this move and could see more businesses follow suit.

As a native Georgian with family still living in the state, I’ve experienced and still hear about how restrictive a state income tax can be. Rather than being able to choose how much to spend on rent, groceries, clothes, and other basic necessities of everyday life, Georgia makes that decision for its residents by taking money out of paychecks before they are even received by the people who earned it. For those living around Atlanta, Georgia’s largest metropolitan area, the loss of after-tax earnings can be the difference between having a home or apartment in Buckhead or Roswell and having to settle for a place near Turner Field. Even simpler, it’s the difference between being able to feed a family of three and a family of four. Most people would prefer to be able to feed every member of their family.

With a shift towards consumption-based taxation, Georgians will truly be able to pick and choose what they spend their hard-earned money on. Georgia legislators should not allow the opportunity to reduce their constituents’ tax burden to slip by this upcoming legislative session.