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Kemp pledges second round of tax refund checks as he seeks reelection

Earlier this year the state issued refund checks of between $250-$500 to taxpayers.
Credit: AP
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp waves to supporters during an election night watch party, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Atlanta. Kemp easily turned back a GOP primary challenge Tuesday from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, who was backed by former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp announced Thursday he will seek a second round of tax rebate checks to Georgia taxpayers and the return of a state property tax break.

The state income tax refund checks would be worth $250-$500 to taxpayers, as they were earlier this year, and an average of $500 to homeowners according to the governor's office.

Both measures would be submitted for next year's budget - if Kemp is reelected. Stacey Abrams has offered a mirror proposal for the same refund checks, but opposes the property tax break.

Georgia previously issued tax refund checks, drawing from the state surplus, earlier this year.

That $1.6 billion measure drew out of a $2.2 billion surplus, and provided for $250-$500 payments to state taxpayers. According to the Associated Press, Georgia ran a surplus of about $5 billion for the 2021-22 fiscal year that concluded at the end of June.

RELATED: Here's how Georgia could spend its $5B surplus

In a call last month for rebate checks, Abrams proposed repeating the structure of the first checks that went out this year - $500 for married couples filing jointly, $375 for single filers with dependents and $250 for single filers. 

Kemp's proposal also mirrors the earlier structure of $250, $375 and $500 payments, according to a press handout from his office.

“While Brian Kemp is following Stacey Abrams’ lead in calling for tax rebates, he’s still pushing an extreme and dangerous agenda that threatens Georgia families and puts our economy at risk,” Abrams spokesperson Alex Floyd told the AP.

Kemp has accused Abrams of backing his policies only because they’re popular.

“She criticized all those things before she came out and is now supporting them,” he said.

Part of Kemp's proposal would also reportedly include bringing back a property tax break that went away in 2009. The last time it was in place in 2008, it saved homeowners about $200-$300 on their property tax bills, according to the AP, at a total cost of $428 million to the state.

According to the press handout, the revived property tax initiative will save homeowners 15-25% on their bill - or about $500 on average.

Abrams opposes reviving the property tax break, saying it is "paying off the property taxes of mansion owners and millionaires."

At the announcement of the first round of tax rebate checks, Gov. Kemp cited rising inflation in a tweet for the push to provide the refund.

"I just signed HB 1302, returning over $1 billion in surplus funds to GA taxpayers. As Bidenflation runs rampant across the country, in the Peach State, we are bringing this relief to hardworking Georgians - because that's YOUR money, not the government's," Kemp said.

The governor has continued to make inflation and other economic issues a focus in his reelection campaign against Abrams.

Fearing revenue would tank amid the COVID pandemic, Georgia lawmakers cut 10% from the spending plan while developing the budget for the 2021 fiscal year in the summer of 2020. Once it became clear revenue wouldn't plummet, the state government then restored hundreds of millions of dollars back into its education budget

However, other agencies across the Peach State have remained under a 10% cut, in part creating the surplus.

   

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