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When might Georgians see proposed additional tax refunds?

Governor Brian Kemp proposed $250 direct payments to single filers, while joint filers would get $500.

ATLANTA — Georgians could get a few extra hundred dollars this tax season. Governor Brian Kemp is proposing $250 in direct payments for individuals, while joint filers would get $500. It amounts to $1.6 billion in income taxes being refunded, which is from a surplus of $2.2 billion from Georgia's last budget year.  

The governor said anyone who files income taxes by the April 18 tax filing deadline would receive the refund. Tax expert Andrew Poulos said questions still remain about how the government might pay these refunds. Would the state mail checks or distribute via direct deposit? Will those with outstanding balances be credited or get the extra cash?

A spokesperson from the Governor's Office said details are still forthcoming, but the General Assembly would have the responsibility to vote on the proposed tax refund. According to the spokesperson, the government would take direction from the Department of Revenue on moving forward with the additional tax refunds.

“I believe when government takes in more money than it needs, surplus funds should be sent back to the hardworking men and women who keep our state moving, because I believe that’s your money, not the government’s," Kemp said. 

State Rep. Josh McLaurin (D-Sandy Springs) said the budget surplus could have gone to pay for historically underfunded areas like education and healthcare, which took heavy hits during the pandemic. Georgia lawmakers cut 10% in spending while developing the budget for the 2021 fiscal year in the summer of 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19. 

"Democrats are always going to be supportive of having money in the hands of working people who know what kind of needs they need to spend that money on," McLaurin said. "But, this seems like an election year ploy. There are just all kinds of priorities that the state has been neglecting, so to do a quick rebate as opposed to tackling those challenges together seems irresponsible." 

RELATED: Gov. Kemp proposes tax refunds of $250-500 to Georgians out of budget surplus

Kemp faces reelection this year. He has recently proposed bumping state employee pay by $5,000. McLaurin said the direct payments would be an insult compared to providing sustained benefits through dedicated funding to Medicaid expansion or mental health resources. 

Poulos said these direct payments would be different from previous federal stimulus payments, and they could make for a boost amid rising inflation.

“This is taxpayer dollars that have been collected that haven't been used in essence, so it’s coming back to the citizens of Georgia versus stimulus, where the government just begins to print out money and pass legislation to issue money that really doesn’t exist in the system," Poulos said.

RELATED: State leaders prioritize labor shortages, education, & public safety for 2022

The tax expert said the average annual tax refund in Georgia goes up to about $2-3,000. If passed, the governor's proposed direct payments could be in Georgians' wallets a few weeks after filing, per Poulos. 

"Some taxpayers might see their refunds, their returns processing their refunds in as little as four weeks," Poulos said. "On average, we tell our clients expect six to eight weeks.”

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