A special group formed by the state legislature to analyze Georgia’s tax code began a fact-finding mission Thursday that will help shape any changes lawmakers make to the way Georgians pay taxes next year.
Some 100 people showed up at the first public hearing of the Special Council on Tax Reform and Fairness for Georgians in Atlanta Thursday afternoon. They listened and provided input about how the current tax code affects residents and businesses and how it can be made more fair, said council chairman A.D. Frazier.
Of that 100, about 15 made comments to the chairman, Frazier said.
Similar fact-finding sessions will take place throughout the state over the next two weeks, including a Sept. 9 session at Gainesville State College, as the council begins to form opinions on the future of Georgia’s tax code.
The council was formed by the General Assembly this year with the charge to study Georgia’s revenue structure and make recommendations on how the state’s tax structure could be changed by the 2011 legislative session.
Its members include Gov. Sonny Perdue and some of the state’s top economists, tax experts and business leaders.
Perdue did not attend Thursday’s public hearing, however, said spokesman Bert Brantley. Council members are not required to attend the fact-finding sessions, but Frazier said about five members attended the Atlanta hearing.
According to Frazier, the council has been asked to “think broadly about how we fund this state, think broadly about bringing our tax code into the 21st century and think broadly about connecting the taxes that we are collecting with the type of economy we have.
“Most importantly, we’ve been asked to examine every aspect of taxation from the standpoint of ‘does it hinder or does it help Georgia growth,’” Frazier said.
Many of the comments made Thursday, Frazier said, were arguments for certain sales tax exemptions.
“They’re there about their own interest,” Frazier said. “We want to hear what those interests are, because I’m not going to know and they deserve a chance to say. We’ve got to take their views into account, too. This is what we’re doing.”
The council’s Sept. 9 public hearing at Gainesville State College will be from 4 - 7 p.m. Residents can leave comments on the council’s website — http://fiscalresearch.gsu.edu/taxcouncil/sessions.htm — or bring written comments to the hearing.