Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) used his veto authority on May 7 to kill two tax hikes that were passed in March by the Democrat-run Maryland Legislature.
“One of the digital tax bills vetoed by Hogan would’ve imposed the nation’s first tax on digital advertising,” ATR’s Patrick Gleason reported in a recent Forbes article. “The other tax hike vetoed by Hogan, House Bill 932, would’ve applied the state sales tax to streamed movies, downloaded music, e-books, and a host of other digital goods and services.”
“The economic fallout from this pandemic simply makes it impossible to fund any new programs, impose new tax hikes, nor adopt any legislation having any significant fiscal impact,” Governor Hogan explained in his veto statement.
Whereas Governor Hogan vetoed the bill in Maryland to extend of the state sales tax to online purchases, Republicans in Georgia decided to enact a similar tax hike earlier this year. House Bill 276, which was passed by the Republican-run Georgia legislature and signed into law in January, raises taxes on Georgians by making out-of-state “marketplace facilitators” responsible for collecting and remitting state sales tax for online purchases made by Georgia residents.
HB 276 is projected to raise state tax collections by $150 million annually. The bill also raises taxes on ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft.
“We agree that addressing inequities between online and brick and mortar retailers is an important issue, Uber spokeswoman Evangeline George told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “However, if action is not taken to put a reasonable fee structure on rideshare in place, Georgians will end up paying one of the highest rideshare taxes in the nation.”
Earlier voting has already begun for the approaching June 9 Georgia primary. The following Georgia lawmakers, many of whom are running for reelection this year, broke their Taxpayer Protection Pledge, a written commitment to Georgia taxpayers, by voting for HB 276:
- Georgia Senator John Albers
- Georgia Representative Sharon Cooper
- Georgia Representative Matt Dollar
- Georgia Representative Penny Houston
- Georgia Representative Trey Kelley
- Georgia Representative Billy Mitchell
- Georgia Representative Alan Powell
- Georgia Representative Bruce Williamson
- Georgia Representative Albert Thomas Reeves
- Georgia Representative Heath N. Clark
- Georgia Representative Eddie Lumsden
- Georgia Representative Todd Jones
- Georgia Representative Don Hogan
- Georgia Representative Bill Werkheiser
Many Georgia lawmakers defend their vote for HB 276 by saying it’s not a tax hike. Instead, these lawmakers claim they were simply clarifying who should collect and remit certain taxes owed.
While such arguments might have some technical merits, the fiscal note for the bill makes clear that the change is projected to collect $150 million more from Georgia taxpayers every year than was the case before passage of HB 276. Some politicians will claim taking an extra $150 million annually from taxpayers is not a tax hike, but that doesn’t change the fact that HB 276 has the same impact as a $150 million tax hike.
If Georgia lawmakers had wanted to expand sales tax collection and remittance requirements for “fairness” reasons alone, they could’ve done so in a way that didn’t result in a net tax hike on Georgians. Georgia lawmakers could’ve paired HB 276’s expansion of sales tax collection requirements with the 0.25% state income tax cut that Georgia lawmakers promised they would pass this year. Doing so would’ve achieved the “fairness” that HB 276 supporters claim to care about in a way that didn’t impose a net tax hike on Georgians, many of whom are struggling amid the current economic downturn.