Georgia Tax Reform Report a Taxpayer Protection Pledge Violation
Today Americans for Tax Reform announced that a vote in favor of the recommendations of the 2010 Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians would violate the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, as it constitutes a net tax increase. 55 Georgia lawmakers, including Governor Nathan Deal, House Speaker David Ralston, and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers have signed the Pledge, a written promise to constituents to oppose and vote against or veto all tax increases.
While the Council proposes some pro-growth reforms, such as the gradual reduction of personal and corporate income tax rates, they are more than offset with net tax increases. The income tax reductions amount to roughly $750 million in savings for Georgians, but tax increases on groceries, tobacco, communications services, the Internet and other services approach $2 billion. ATR believes that tax reform is a noble goal, but not when it constitutes a net revenue increase for state government.
ATR President Grover Norquist issued the following statement:
“In its current form, last week’s tax reform proposal should be a non-starter for fiscal conservatives in the Georgia Legislature. While tax reform is indeed a laudable goal, it should not be presented in a way that increases the net burden on taxpayers and raises even more money for state government. Unfortunately, this report recommends just that.
“A significant reduction in marginal tax rates is long overdue in Georgia, which is wedged between two states – Tennessee and Florida – that levy no personal income tax at all. But if the goal is to use such reductions to mask bigger tax increases on groceries, tobacco, and a variety of services, it is not even worthy of a conversation.
“This is akin to shards of glass in a delicious crème brûlée. It is a bit of desirable tax reform ruined by an overall tax hike. Thankfully, Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers run state government in Georgia. Because they have taken tax increases definitively off the table, I am confident that we can move past this initial foray into tax reform and begin a serious conversation about reducing the size and scope of state government in Atlanta.”