About That Department of Revenue Reinterpretation

This is a matter of trust. The possibility that the Georgia Department of Revenue may be seeking reimbursement of realized tax credits under a new and narrow interpretation of a 1998 law is very disturbing. The law allows for income tax credits for increased traffic through the Georgia ports. The state must stand behind the tools it offers to those who create more jobs in our state. We should not offer Georgia companies a tax incentive to increase port traffic with one hand and then renege on that offer with another hand and ask for additional taxes.

When the original law was created, it was widely understood that its purpose was to provide more competitive job and investment tax credits to new and expanding businesses that increase their imports and exports through Georgia ports. Georgia has used this aggressive incentive to compete with Charleston for traffic and the state continues to offer the incentive to lure many new companies to Georgia.

If the law is unclear and needs to be revisited, then that is a matter for the legislature to debate. But we should never ask for money back after a tax credit is used in good faith by Georgia

12 comments

  1. Bobby Kahn says:

    Senator,

    If you want a model on how to do a retroactive tax break, talk to Casey and Larry O’Neal about how they gave Sonny the 100k retroactive tax break for his Disney deal. Or were you in on that too?

  2. GabrielSterling says:

    I agree with Senator Johnson. This is an item for the legislature to address, not tax collecting bureaucrats.

    Businesses need stability to be able to make rational decisions. If we allow a precedent to be out there that if you do business in Georgia that the rules may change, not only in the middle of the game, but they can go back and take points off the board.

    I am hopeful that the legislature will not allow this “reinterpretation” to move forward.

  3. jrgarland says:

    Under no circumstances should one trust the DoR bureaucracy.

    Back in 2004, a couple of us in Athens-Clarke County caught the Clarke County School District blatantly violating the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TBoR). It did do by increasing the millage rate after holding the public hearings required by law on a budget that did not include a millage rate increase. TBoR stipulates that in such cases, the public hearings process must begin anew which, needless to say, it did not.

    At no point in the bureaucratic process required to set and levy the millage rate (including the Board of Education, the County Commission, the Tax Assessor, the DoR) did anyone express the slightest interest in this matter, even when provided with chapter and verse of the relevant regulatory and Code sections.

    After pursuing the matter for months and following the chain of all the way up to the Governor’s office, we finally got a meeting with the big shots at the DoR. We came to discover that local bureaucracies had learned to depend on an interpretation by the Property Tax division that its interpretation of its own regulations, ostensibly written to implement the provisions of TBoR, actually let those local bureaucracies do precisely what what TBoR prohibits.

    A conference room full of bureaucrats and lawyers sat there and told us with straight faces that the DoR’s regulations and the state Code in reality meant just the opposite of what they plainly said – and if we didn’t like it, hire a lawyer (which, in retrospect, is what we should have done in the first place).

  4. CobbGOPer says:

    Bobby, give it a rest pal. It didn’t work the first 10,000 times you and “The Big [Fat] Guy” tried to explain it.

    When are the state Democrats going to lock you away? Well, I guess that would be too intelligent an action for them. Therefore, I look forward to the state Democrat party announcing you as the next Dem candidate for governor.

  5. Federalist says:

    policy interpretation is left to the executive and bureacracy. bush has issued how many signing statements that rendered congressional legislation useless? this has set quite an example for the states. Fact is the state needs revenue. Perdue will not allow taxes to be raised, the counties keep passing SPLOSTs, and the state needs money. GA can not simply print out money like the GOP wishes it could. I am going to make a bold statement here about the republicans…they do not understand the concept of financing government. plain and simple. So long as the reinterpretation yeilds state funds, it should be allowed. Regardless of the consequences.

  6. IndyInjun says:

    jrgarland,

    The taxpayer’s bill of rights is a cruel hoax with no teeth.

    I would like to see this grand deception remedied as a part of the GOP tax reform, but it won’t happen.

  7. IndyInjun says:

    jr garland;

    The locals routine ignore the specific provisions of the TBOR because all previous abrogations and abuses disappear upon appeal to Superior Court, as the judge will assess the value irrespective of how badly the Assessors have assaulted the taxpayer.

    In one case with which I am familiar, the taxpayer had followed property tax regulations TO THE LETTER, but the Assessors and Board of Equalization puppets followed the opinion of paid tax consultants assisting the assessor. Never mind that the burden of proof supposedly switches to the Assessors under TBOR, the county assessors know that pursuing relief in courts is very costly, with the legal costs rivalling the assessment.

    This produces massive abuse throughout the state.

    The burden of proof should remain on the assessor even at the Superior Court level and if the assessor violates the TBOR, it should bar recovery of additional tax, interest, and penalty from the taxpayer.

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