ATLANTA - Georgians and Georgia businesses hit in the wallet by the coronavirus pandemic would get a series of tax breaks under three bills the state House of Representatives passed Wednesday.
Lawmakers voted unanimously to raise the standard deduction Georgia taxpayers can declare on their state income taxes, then overwhelmingly approved two packages of tax credits and sales tax exemptions.
The income tax bill would let married taxpayers filing jointly add $1,100 to the state’s standard deduction, which would increase from $6,000 to $7,100. Single taxpayers would be allowed to deduct an additional $800, and married couples filing separately would get an additional deduction of $550.
More Georgians began taking the standard deduction rather than itemizing their returns after Congress passed legislation at the end of 2017 doubling the federal standard deduction.
“This will affect the most Georgians possible,” said Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, one of the bill’s cosponsors.
The bill would represent a total tax cut of $140 million.
The tax credit bill, which passed 157-14, would provide new state tax credits to Georgia manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceuticals and to “high-impact” aerospace projects.
The aerospace tax credit would help Georgia take advantage of a “generational opportunity” to land contracts for a new generation of military aircraft that will be rolled out during the next three years, said Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta.
“There is capacity at Lockheed-Martin,” he said. “They’re turnkey ready right now.”
Another provision in the bill would renew a tax credit the state provides for maintenance projects along short-line freight rail lines that otherwise would expire in 2023.
The sales tax exemption bill, which passed 164-6, would extend the sunset date on an exemption on sales of materials used in construction of “projects of regional significance” in Georgia.
The state has only used the exemption for nine projects since 2012, but that work has generated 8,700 jobs, said Rep. Sam Watson R-Moultrie, the bill’s chief sponsor.
The bill also includes a tax exemption on the sale of tickets by performing arts venues across the state, which have lost the vast majority of their business to the pandemic.
“Hopefully, this will help them fill in some holes,” Watson said.
A provision in the bill aimed at Coastal Georgia would remove the sunset provision on a tax exemption on sales of parts used to repair boats.
“We want the big yachts to come to our state to be retrofitted and repaired,” Watson said.
The tax credit and tax exemption measures were titled “The Georgia Economic Renewal Act of 2021” and “The Georgia Economic Recovery Act of 2021,” respectively.
“Our economic renewal and recovery will create jobs and spur growth in several industries in Georgia,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.
All three bills now move to the Georgia Senate.