Wednesday, January 5, 2011

GBPI Releases New Fact Sheet: Income Tax Evens Out the Burden for Families

The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) released a fact sheet highlighting the attributes of the income tax that make it a good counterweight to sales taxes, especially for families.

The Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians meets today to finalize recommendations before state legislators return on Monday, Jan. 10. Those recommendations will go to a joint House and Senate committee, which will craft legislation for an up or down vote by legislators.

The Council is likely to recommend a shift from the income tax to the sales tax, based on a presentation by Chairman A.D. Frazier in December.

The income tax is an important mechanism for recognizing the different needs of families and vulnerable populations. For example, the income tax excludes a base amount of income per person to ensure we are not taxing the most basic level of income.

Each person in a four person family receives a personal exemption ($5,400 for the parents and $3,000 for each child). A single person receives a $2,700 personal exemption. Thus, a family of four earning $50,000 pays about $1,900 in state income taxes, compared to about $2,500 in income taxes for a single person earning $50,000. In contrast, the sales tax does not recognize that it takes a larger amount of income to provide for more people.

"The state income tax is a tool that allows us to balance some of the negative aspects of the sales tax," said Sarah Beth Gehl, deputy director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. "A dramatic shift from income to sales tax will likely mean middle class families and vulnerable populations will foot more of the bill for state services."

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