ATLANTA — The idea of eliminating the state income tax may gain some steam with the upcoming 2022 election, as former senator David Perdue called for it this week when he announced his run for governor. However, it’s not as easy as it may sound.
Proposals to eliminate the state income tax have gone nowhere in Georgia and no new legislation dropped in the last legislative session. But watch out, an election year is coming.
"My bold vision for Georgia is very simple. Completely eliminate the state income tax. It’s time," Perdue said in the middle of a campaign video announcing his plan to take on Gov. Brian Kemp in next year’s Republican primary. However, his plan is a radical proposal, according to Georgia Budget Policy Institute budget analyst Danny Kanso.
"We’re not talking about a small fraction of the budget here, or something that could be easily eliminated in any way. We’re talking about literally the main source of revenue that’s powered the state budget since the mid 20th century," Kanso explained.
The state income tax is paid by wage earners and tallied up each year along with federal income taxes. It's also the largest of the state’s revenue sources, exceeding the money the state makes from the four next-largest sources of revenue – combined.
It’s also the main source of funding for Georgia’s public education system - both K through 12 and its supplements for state colleges. The income tax also funds state health care programs.
Eliminate the state income tax and lawmakers would have to either create new taxes to replace it, or cut those popular programs.
"There’s very little fat in state government. All of these are core services for the most part," Kanso said.
There are other states like Tennessee and Florida that don’t have state income taxes. But, both of those states tax their abundant tourism to make up for it. Kanso said no state that has relied on income tax revenue, like Georgia has, has ever successfully repealed it.