A Potential $300 Million

I’m a fiscal conservative. So when I hear about the possibility of collecting more revenue for the government without raising taxes, I get a bit excited.  We are squeezed for cash in Georgia, even though it seems that we have afforded to spend money on things such as boat ramps and horse parks. Still, the budget is a major issue and narrowing a budget gap is crucial to the health of the state.

So how does Georgia get money without raising taxes, levies, fees, fines, etc.? Enter Rep. Larry O’Neal and Rep. David Knight. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee have introduced legislation that would allow the state to identify businesses that have local licenses to operate but do not pay sales taxes to the state.

It’s a simple-sounding prospect that O’Neal said he believes could conservatively return $100 million to state coffers “and it could be two to three times that. That’s my estimation.”…Sales taxes would not be raised under this plan.

O’Neal and Knight got the idea to plug the holes in tax collection from an ongoing pilot project in Hall County that found

“nearly 1,000 businesses in that single North Georgia county that did not have sales tax numbers, meaning those businesses were not properly collecting or reporting sales tax collections to the state. Another 600-plus businesses were found not to have a license from the county or local government.”

Efficiency in government is huge. Collecting taxes that are already levied just makes sense. Why we haven’t done this already is beyond me, but, much like the Little Dutch Boy, Georgia needs to plug up the holes in the budget. Every dollar needs to be accounted for. This seemingly simple legislation should make sure that sales taxes are collected and render more revenue for the state.


  1. georgiahack says:

    I think most, save the tax scofflaws, think this is a great idea. But talk about stealing an idea and claiming it as one’s own. Rep. Dubose Porter has been pushing this for a while now. Even dropping a bill on it a year ago tomorrow. HB 356. And while Porter’s bill accomplishes this in a different way, the outcome is still the same.

    I just wish a good idea wouldn’t have to be proposed by a republican to be considered worthy.

    And in the article I find it a bit disingenuous that Bart Graham acts as if Reps. O’neal and Knight invented the wheel when just a month ago he was knocking the very idea saying it would not have that much of an impact.

  2. Mozart says:

    Sales taxes only apply to the sale of “goods,” not services. If these businesses that do not have sales tax ID are selling tangible products, then it will provide a boost in revenue. If they are service-providers only, no suich boost will occur.

    BUT…this idea does provide the fodder for the anti-FAIR Tax folks: If businesses who sell tangible goods are not currently registered with the state, and submitting sales taxes collected, why will institution of the FAIR Tax make them discover the sales tax law?

    • Jeremy Jones says:

      I agree to both comments, though the latter, to me is invalid, because of the former.

      I run a small business in North Georgia, and do not collect, pay, or file for sales tax. I am strictly a service based business. I do pay Georgia income tax (except this year because a multitude of legal, legitimate deductions)

      I would be shocked to find out a large enough number of businesses who should be paying sales tax are not. Here is another example.

      Plumbers and electricians are often the target of these types of bills. Of the dozen or so people I know in each of these professions, they are self exempt from collecting/submittnig sales tax for one major reason, they buy their parts at a retail store and pay sales tax on it. To me, that is the bigger indicator of an issue. These people choose to pay a slightly higher price for their supplies, for it is better than the cost of compliance and risk of error and/or audit.

      I know(assume) there are businesses who are cheating the system, any tax rate over zero will result in a segment of fraud. However, I seriously doubt the numbers are anywhere near what they are claiming. Regardless, if we have the resources to find, investigate, prosecute and collect, we should go after businesses not operating properly.

      • Mozart says:


        Just like what Washington DC does constantly, passing this law will be an unfunded mandate. The state doesn’t have enough “resources” now to enforce the laws on the books.

        Tell you what, why don’t they approve of some money to help rehabilitate the teenage prostitutes that Senator Unterman is intent on “freeing” into the wild with no official support systems set-up?

        • Mad Dog says:


          Liked your two comments. I’m sure the FairTaxers have everything well under control. LMAo.

          I didn’t pay any sales tax way back when … or was that just recently back when?

          And there is no way of knowing if Wal-Mart or Gus Gorman are keeping the rounded off fractions of a cent?

          Gus Gorman for the non-Krytonian was the Richard Pryor character in Superman III.

          The rounded off cents was a very funny way to embezzel.

    • drjay says:

      i’m not sure how much of a “boon” this really would be, most of my business is service oriented, but the few things i do sell, i pay sales tax on when i buy them, so i do not collect sales tax when i sell them…i’m really not sure how one could get around that b/c you have to give vendors a number of some sort to not pay sales tax when you buy stuff…

      • drjay says:

        i wonder how many of the businesses in the “pilot program” in hall county were actually selling goods, as opposed to services…

  3. fishtail says:

    I recall that Roy Barnes got an extra $2 billion from the Feds by hiring some experts to figure out if Georgia was getting its fair share of Federal Medicare funds. Wonder if Sonny has done something like that?

    • Mozart says:

      If he did, he likely figured out a way to divert some of that money to building his own fishing resort in Oaky Woods.

  4. chefdavid says:

    What about in great counties that right now do not require a business licenses? Like the great State of Dade. Will the counties be required to inact one? I know our current board would just love this unfunded mandate as an excuse to add a new tax in the form of a business license and offer no new service for it.

  5. Tinkerhell says:

    While I’m all good with following the law let’s be honest here, if we could somehow find these businesses & start taking more money from them in the form of some tax that they are supposed to be paying, those businesses will just pass that right on back to their customers.

    • Mozart says:

      That statement assumes all businesses offer goods and services in a market in which they can automatically raise prices and customers will stick by them regardless. The only businesses that tend to operate like that are the oil companies, and other similar oligopoly-members.

      The fact is, that equally enforcing the law on all businesses will mean that there will be slightly less net profit allowed to the owners of the businesses who have to pony-up and pay the fees and taxes.

      • Mad Dog says:

        There are four ways to look at businesses taxes, including passing the ‘tax’ on to the next business, absorbing it, passing to consumers, or a transfer to other jurisdictions. Is that five? Or four?

  6. Something not mentioned though is collecting taxes that aren’t owed. Like Jeremy, we own a business that is service oriented. I got a sales tax id just in case we ever needed to collect sales tax on anything, not realizing what a pain in the arse it was going to be if we never really owed anything except maybe once in a blue moon.

    So the DOR didn’t send me the forms for the first couple of months after we received our sales tax id. I received a letter January 11th stating that we owe $5,890.38 plus penalties and interest to bring our grand total to $7,716.27. Now, don’t get me wrong… we’d have loved to make sales of enough stuff to need to collect that much in taxes. But for a service oriented business that’s been in business for less than a year and whose other filings have been for $0, how in the hell do they estimate that we should have collected and sent in nearly $5900 in sales tax? That means we should have sold $84,148 worth of stuff.

    How about instead of falsely trying to collect money from businesses that don’t owe it, try making the DOR a bit more efficient and correct in what it does first. I bet there’s quite a bit of waste that could be trimmed there.

  7. Rick Day says:

    PS..if the DOR wants to do its job it will get off its collective [sic] asses and process alcohol license renewals!

    One of my wholesale reps reports that as of Jan 1, there were 1400 businesses waiting to recieve their renewal. We did not get ours until mid Jan, and had to exist off existing stock (local license allows pouring, state allows wholesale purchasing). As of last week, there were still 30 accounts who typically order weekly, still waiting on their paperwork. They all filed for renewal in November.

    This means those 30 do not have the inventory capacity to wait this long for their state license, so they sneak to the retail stores to buy stock, which is totally illegal.

    Often, with MADDers/biddy hen/NIMBY influenced ordinances and statutes, trying to remain legal and legitimate, and also trying to survive reality, the two often times do not work together well.

    Oh, and the state collects tax from the wholesalers too. So the state is double slapped with delays in tax revenue flow.

    With all the fees, taxes and license costs, who knows how much of the money paid for a drink in GA goes toward local, county and state coffers. The leas they can do is get off their asses and get that paperwork processed!

    • I’m sure they’re awfully busy. After all, I tried calling the DOR a week or two ago and sat on hold (on speakerphone) for an hour and a half before I finally hung up, assuming nobody was on the other end. Called again later that week, same thing. Tried calling today and got a message that the wait time was longer than 45 minutes, so I hung up and just sent them an e-mail and a letter. Gotta love dealing with these screwballs…

  8. Goldwater Conservative says:

    Now all we need to do is legalize Sunday sales and pot and we could be headed toward a full recovery.

      • benevolus says:

        That might work! Give everybody on Unemployment an oz and a couple of six packs and some Doritos and tell them to come back in a couple of months. Probably cheaper than what we are doing now!

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