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Friday, January 21, 2011 - 11:53am

Grocery Tax Could Return

Lawmakers will consider reinstating the grocery tax this session. It’s perhaps the most controversial part of a broad plan to overhaul the tax code. Two legislators discussing the plan at recent luncheon on the state budget crisis provide a glimpse of what’s to come when lawmakers take up the issue this year.

House Majority Leader Republican Larry Oneal who sits on the tax committee says a tax on goods and services will create the most reliable stream of revenue. He says it will make everyone, including those who evade taxes by living mostly on cash, pay for the infrastructure they use.

"Whether or not I’m from another country or I’m not otherwise paying any taxes in the state of taxes. [If] I’m traveling through the state of Georgia and I go buy something at least that’s going to go in the state coffers."

Oneal says coupled with a reduction in income taxes, most taxpayers will end up paying less taxes.

But House Minority Leader Democrat Stacey Abrams says that’s only true for certain income brackets.

"Now if you’re above 120,000 dollars, it’s a great deal for you. You’re going to be paying less in income taxes, and the increase in your sales taxes on food doesn’t really hurt you," says Abrams. "But if you make less than $120,000 your tax rate will go up. It does not go down."

Abrams says even though the plan includes a tax credit for people earning less, it would not make up for the additional sales tax.

A committee of eight Republicans and four Democrats will take up the tax recommendations in a couple of weeks.