During the 2017 Legislative Session, Senate Resolution 222 created the Senate Special Tax Exemption Study Committee, which was tasked with examining the “costs and benefits” of all exemptions for Georgia sales and use taxes and income taxes. See the previous Eversheds Sutherland Legal Alert on the 2017 Georgia Legislative Session.

The Special Committee held its first public meeting on July 18, 2017. The Committee is chaired by Senator John Albers (Roswell). Its members are Senators Chuck Hufstetler (Rome), Jack Hill (Reidsville), Hunter Hill (Atlanta), William Ligon (Brunswick) and Mike Dugan (Carrollton).

At the initial meeting, the Committee discussed its general purpose: evaluating and making recommendations on Georgia tax exemptions by their short deadline of December 1, 2017. To do so, the committee members will have to prioritize which exemptions to evaluate by the deadline. Ultimately, the committee intends to create a one-page summary for each prioritized incentive. This summary will include basic information about the exemption, including relevant data such as costs and utilization; the tangible and intangible benefits of offering the exemption; and a recommendation on whether to continue, expand, reduce, or sunset the exemption. Senator Albers intends to apply the Committee’s overall findings to memorialize a process for evaluating future legislation proposing tax exemptions—either through legislation or a Senate rule.

Both the Georgia Department of Revenue and the Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center will be assisting the Committee in its work. The Department of Revenue provided data on the use of tax exemptions based on reported 2015 tax returns. The Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center provided the committee materials describing the history and purposes of each tax incentive. A representative from the Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Development Tax Incentives discussed various considerations for states evaluating the efficacy of tax incentives.

The Committee intends to meet throughout the state to hear from the industries and about the relevant exemptions in each area. The dates are as follows, but the exact time and locations of the meetings are still to be determined:

August 22 in North Georgia September 29 in Savannah October 27 in Southwest Georgia November 14 in Atlanta