Georgia lawmaker: Flat tax will be back

The chairman of the Georgia House Ways and Means Committee vowed his flat tax plan will be back, after it ran aground last month in the Senate.

“No question,” Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, said this week. “The plan took a little tweaking … but it’s a good, solid plan.”

When it passed the House, House Bill 329 sought to strip the Georgia income tax of its graduated structure, replacing it with a single 5.4 percent rate. The plan was criticized as unfair to lower-income Georgians, who would stand to pay much more under the new structure, and a giveaway to the rich, who would get a big cut.

The bill attempted to offset the increase with a new earned income tax credit that would rollback the increase on most blue collar tax payers. The Senate version of the bill restored the graduated structure, but granted across-the-board tax breaks at a greater cost to state revenue.

Time ran out on the session before the two sides could come to an agreement. Powell said it may take new blood before a massive restructuring of the state’s income tax can pass.

“I don’t know until after the elections are over next year if there is any point in trying to make that effort,” he said. “What I saw this year was more politics than rational study.”

For more on why Powell thinks the flat tax is the right “first step” for Georgia and why that makes some people nervous, read this week’s AJC Watchdog column here.

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