Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Georgia lawmakers consider nixing income tax

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House Republicans meeting to elect their leaders for the coming legislative session pledged Monday to "dismantle the current tax code" and consider scrapping the politically unpopular personal income tax.

Republicans have already established several study committees and other initiatives to look into reforming the state's tax structure.

"And when (House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Larry O'Neal) gets to that portion on the personal income tax, maybe we'll just leave that section out and we won't have that anymore in this state," House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons Island, said to loud applause during a GOP caucus meeting Monday.

House Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, said after the caucus meeting that income tax revenues make up about half the state's budget, which totals $16.7 billion in the fiscal year that ends June 30. He suggested that the plan could involve elimination of some of the exemptions to the sales tax.

Just doing away with the sales-tax exemptions wouldn't be enough, said Alan Essig, the executive director of the nonpartisan Georgia Policy and Budget Institute, which supports closing sales-tax loopholes as part of tax reform.