The Standard Journal
Reform bill to reduce income tax percentage
Rate changes to 5.4 percent with elimination of brackets
A trio of bills is on State Rep. Trey Kelley’s radar as the 2017 session of the state General Assembly continues, one in particular close to his heart as a longtime campaign promise to Polk County voters.
Kelley, who has long sought to institute tax reform on the state level, is getting his wish as a co-signer on a bill introduced by State Rep. Jay Powell to decrease the percentage of income taken by the state each year.
If approved by the legislature and signed by the govnernor, the bill going into effect on July 1 would bring Georgia’s income tax rate to a flat 5.4 percent for everyone, meaning most taxpayers within the state would see a 10 percent decrease overall on their 2018 tax bills from the 6 percent rate most pay now.
Kelley said the bill eliminates Georgia’s six income tax brackets and merges them into a single rate, meant to help not only individuals who get money withheld from their checks regularly but also those who are single owners of small businesses or limited liability corporations.
And in order to cut down on any unfairness to those who would have paid less in the rate, Kelley said a nonrefundable earned income tax credit is being included for those who make less than $7,000 a year annually in their jobs.
Since most Georgia residents - some 90 percent according to Kelley - make more than $10,000 a year, the cut from the typical 6 percent to 5.4 percent for everyone means a 10 percent decrease in the amount they would pay annually.
“This is a reasonable, conservative measure that allows Georgia to retain it’s AAA bond rating while also providing much needed income tax relief to Georgia citizens,” he said.
Kelley has long campaigned for statewide tax reform, and said he saw this as a first step along what he expects will be a long path in sessions to come.
He’s also keeping his eye on two other bills he hopes will bring positive impacts to public safety issues on the state level.
Kelley is a big proponent of legislation passed in the house to help firefighters who are experiencing higher levels of cancer.
More details on HB 146 can be found in a separate story in this week’s edition, but Kelley added his thoughts that the bill does much to help the firefighting community and hopes the state Senate will see fit to give it easy passage.
An area the legislation specifically addresses Kelley said is of added importance is funding for volunteer firefighters as well but not at the same level as for paid firefighters.
They will however get a supplement to help them from the state, but it will be largely based on other income volunteers get from working their regular jobs.
Kelley is also a proponent of HB 75, a bill that provides stricter protections of information that can be shared during investigations between the law enforcement agencies and the Department of Human Services and the Department of Family and Children Services.
He said a problem of information sharing during investigations by police officers across the state and the two state agencies developed because of the potential for information to get out about youth involved in the DFCS program, since anything gathered in criminal investigations becomes public record.
HB 75 passed through the house on Feb. 9 and is making its way through the Senate for further consideration.
The legislation is thus designed to keep such information confidential and keep it from being released amid any criminal investigations where information from DFCS or Human Services is shared.