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Trying to avoid usage of the dreaded t-word

Opinion column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Ah, they're shutting down the factory now, Just when all the bills are due.

-- Leonard Cohen

We're taught in these enlightened times that we must not, at any cost, ever utter such objectionable terms as the f-word, the s-word and the n-word.

However, if you are part of any governmental body or agency, you're more apt to fall out of favor with the utterance of the dreaded t-word.

That would be tax.

Some politicians are so afraid of the word they're brow-beaten into signing some goober's ludicrous pledge to never vote for more taxes, as if that possibility exists. Afraid, for some reason only they know, to go back on their "Grover Norquist pledge" --Oooooh -- these followers spend most of their time trying to come up with creative ways to deny the bill they've just signed is actually a tax increase, even when everyone knows better.

The Georgia Legislature came up with a very sound piece of legislation during the 2012 session, a bill that should help the state attract even more businesses and industries. Starting on Jan. 1, the state will decrease the tax it charges manufacturers for energy by 1 percent. Four years later, the tax will disappear.

The one catch to the legislation, though, is an obvious one that somehow slipped by many legislators. The tax rate in most of Georgia's counties is 7 percent, including 1 percent taxes for local-option sales tax, special-purpose local-option sales tax and a special education SPLOST. The state charges a 4 percent tax.

While House Bill 386 was working its way through the Legislature, a much-needed and popular piece of legislation that would take Georgia off the list of 11 states that charge manufacturers taxes on energy, some observant folks -- chief among them the Association County Commissioners of Georgia -- noticed something that didn't quite add up.

HB 386, as originally written, eliminated 6 percent of state taxes charged manufacturers for energy, leaving the 1 percent E-SPLOST in place. The ACCG pointed out that the remaining 2 percent, minus the 4 percent state tax -- the LOST and SPLOST portions -- were approved by the voters in most of the state's 159 counties. So a rider was tacked onto the bill.

Counties that didn't want to lose the 2 percent LOST and SPLOST funds already approved by their voters could decide to "impose" a local 2 percent excise tax on manufacturers. If the counties -- and, subsequently, the cities located within their boundaries -- choose to require payment of the 2 percent LOST and SPLOST taxes, manufacturers' break from energy costs will be just the 4 percent state tax.

Since many of the legislators who voted to approve the tax didn't understand what they were voting for, obviously reports of the possible "new" excise tax have confounded voters.

"I've had calls from several people asking me how the county could even consider imposing another 2 percent tax on its citizens, and I've had some ask how we could vote for a tax that would hurt our manufacturers," Dougherty Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard said. "I've tried to explain that, first, this so-called excise tax applies only to manufacturers, not taxpayers, and, second, it's not a new tax. It's the continuation of taxes approved by voters in this county.

"I don't think there's anyone at Procter & Gamble, MillerCoors, M&M Mars, Coats & Glark, Equinox or any of our other core manufacturers who doubt that Dougherty County and Albany support them wholeheartedly. And we're in favor of HB 386 doing away with the state tax on energy. But doing away with the 2 percent LOST and SPLOST funds would take away between $1 million and $2 million that is to be used on projects approved by our voters."

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard said state officials should have made the intent of HB 386 clearer.

"To unilaterally do away with the 2 percent (LOST and SPLOST collections) already in place would have amounted to another state-mandated reduction," she said.

Local county and city officials have not yet made a decision on the excise tax, but they have a small window in which to do so to have the measure in place by Jan. 1. No matter their decision, it would behoove those who break into a rash at the mention of the t-word to at least understand what's at stake before condemning officials for taking action that might actually be in the county and city's best interest.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

Sister_Ruby 1 year, 5 months ago

Fletcher.......it's real simple. Even you can understand it. When you give your drunk uncle money year in and year out and more and more each year than the previous year and he spends everything you give him plus borrows another forty cents on the dollar........well he just doesn't deserve another f-word nickle increase. He doesn't deserve it because of what he's done with what you've already given him. It's real simple. Even you should be able to understand it.

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RedEric 1 year, 5 months ago

At some point along the taxation road we become socialist. Our definition of when that is achieved may be far apart. I remember a soviet citizen commenting that "the government pretends to pay us for work we pretend to do." get it? Socialism destroys incentive. Welfare is socialism. We have clear and close examples of welfare destroying incentive.

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waltspecht 1 year, 5 months ago

The answer to the "T" word is the "J" word. Jobs that produce a usable product. The pay for the Jobs and the taxes generated by the sold product are what keeps the percentage of taxes from going up. Simply as the populaation increases, the number of jobs must increase to accomodate the larger population which accomodates the cost of the provided goods and services as a result of the taxes. The way things seem to be going now, the jobs created do not contribute to the GNP, they are Government jobs, costing tax dollars on the whole. Then there is the population increase in the class supported by Government funding, producing only expense, not tax dollars. That is simple economics. The TSB has been one heck of an added expense, at cost of tax dollars, far exceeding what it has accomplished. Lets face it, life has it's risks, and some of them need to be accepted whitout throwing Billoins of dollars down the drain. We need to look more at finding jobs for people that contribute to the tax base, not eat away at it. The Government should not be the largest employer, for once it is you have ruined our Republic.

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LoneCycler 1 year, 5 months ago

Mr. Fletcher couldn’t have provided a more confusing explanation of the tax issue. HB 386 eliminates the Georgia sales tax on energy used by manufacturers over a period of four years. If local governments want to keep their LOST and SPLOST income streams from taxing that energy during the period and afterwards they can simply add a sales tax that replaces what HB 386 took away from them. There, that only needed two sentences. Someone please explain to Mr. Sinyard that “this so called excise tax applies only to manufacturers, not taxpayers” ONLY if those taxpayers do not purchase anything made by the manufacturer. Does he really think a manufacturer is just going to eat the increased tax? HB 386 does other things that are similarly obfuscated by the media and politicians. I’d like to see Mr. Fletcher’s explanation of the HB 386 internet sales tax.

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rightasrain 1 year, 5 months ago

Once again, Fletcher is blowing it out his a-word!

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Albanite 1 year, 5 months ago

Mr. Fletcher should stick to writing about those things he understands. Which would be... um... well... um ... he listens to music.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 5 months ago

Georgia is about the only state who charges sales tax on energy. Gotta get more welfare rolling it.

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J.D._Sumner 1 year, 5 months ago

Just an FYI, according to the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, 10 states charge some kind of sales tax on energy, and, while Georgia, until last year, was the only state in the Southeast that charged a full sales tax on energy, others like Tennessee charge a reduced rate on energy.

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USTPC 1 year, 5 months ago

Never would I be against reducing taxes but it is unfortunate the reduction only applies to manufacturing. The individual still gets to pay the full 7 percent on their electric, gas, and water bills. Aren't we lucky?

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waltspecht 1 year, 5 months ago

The Tax moneys are needed to support what we have allowed to be created

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