House votes to eliminate car tag tax


ATLANTA - A tax overhaul that would cut car ad valorem taxes paid by Georgia residents on their birthday is racing through the legislature but some supporters of tax reform are asking lawmakers to slow down.

The state House passed the tax overhaul on Tuesday by a 155-9 margin. The bill would increase tax exemptions for married couples, bring back the sales tax holiday and gradually phase out the property tax on cars and trucks in exchange for a one-time title fee. 

The legislation was first released Monday and amended Tuesday morning

Supporters of the bill called it a great day for Georgia taxpayers but Tea Party members and conservative groups want the rapidly moving bill delayed.    

“Stop this bill where it's at. Let us have some input," said Kay Godwin, founder of Georgia Conservatives in Action.

"If this is an up or down vote, and that's the only choice that we have here, we say vote it down," added Julianne Thompson, state director of the Tea Party Patriot. "We just want to be part of the process."

Lawmakers have worked for years to get rid of the tax on vehicles, including a failed plan in 2011.

"It's pro-jobs. It's pro-families," Republican state Rep. Allen Peake told Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary.

"For every driver of a car, owner of a car, they can be glad to know that on their birthday they don't have to pay the ad valorem. That's a win for our citizens, no doubt about it," Peake said.

"Are you surprised that there were members of the tea party down here saying, ‘Don't vote for it.’ They were upset about the process?" Geary asked Peake. 

"Well, I'm surprised because it's an overall tax cut. Why would they be opposed to a tax cut for our citizens?  It makes no sense," he said.

Democrats, including House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, are supporting the plan. Some supporters said the bill levels the playing field for Georgia business owners who have brick and mortar businesses because it allows the state to collect sales tax on Internet purchases. It also eliminates the energy tax for manufacturers and exempts sales tax on jet fuel.

“Tax reform must begin with the principle of fairness," Abrams told Geary.

"There is no more pro-job vote we can cast this session,” said House Speaker David Ralston.

The plan will affect some wealthier retirees by requiring them to pay taxes if they take out more than $65,000 each year from retirement investments.

A vote on the bill in the Senate could come as early as Thursday.