Time for Fractional-Percentage SPLOST – By State Rep. John Carson

Jan 17, 2014 by AFP

This article first appeared in the Marietta Daily Journal here.

I firmly believe in reducing the tax burden on our citizens and increasing accountability in government. This is exactly why I am sponsoring legislation that will allow Georgia’s counties to collect a sales tax at less than one cent.

Imagine each time you went to the supermarket to pick-up just a few household items for your family, you were instead required to purchase a total of $100 worth of stuff. You would be forced to buy items that were either unneeded or more expensive, possibly both. Our families don’t operate like this and neither should our government.

Currently, Georgia law allows counties to propose a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for assessing and collecting a one cent sales tax in the county. Usually lasting four, five or six years, and sometimes shared with cities, the funds collected are used for capital projects such as constructing roads and other infrastructure, local government buildings, and jails.

However, a SPLOST is currently required to be one-percent without any flexibility for a lower rate.

While working on this issue in the 2013 General Assembly session, I introduced HB 153, which allows counties to propose a fractional SPLOST tax percentage, meaning less than one cent. Since some counties and cities have well-developed infrastructure, the one-percent rate can raise more revenue than necessary to fund critically needed capital projects.

For example, a one-percent SPLOST in Cobb raises approximately $130 million annually.

However, since Cobb is a more developed county and doesn’t necessarily need as many new capital projects, actual financial needs could be less than what is generated under a full one-percent. And because these funds must be spent on capital projects, some counties and cities could create “non-essential projects” to ensure all the revenue is spent.

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