It’s Not About The Yacht Owners

This week’s Courier Herald column:

The members of the Georgia General Assembly left Atlanta at the end of March with quite a few tax proposals left sitting on their desks, rather than sending them on to the Governor’s. Under consideration was a bill that would have cut the top income tax rate marginally while increasing some taxes on lower wage earners, and a bill that would have cut the taxes paid on leasing while increasing the title transfer fee on used cars to a value closer to their true market rate. Those bills died.

A bill that passed, however, eliminate sales and use tax on repairs, upgrades and retrofits of large yachts. How large? Think closer to Rodney Dangerfield’s character’s from Caddyshack Al Cervick’s yacht, and less Judge Smail’s much more economy sized boat. For repairs to be tax exempt, they must reach $500,000. That’s a lot more than a scratch on an anchor.

The press and other ritual stone throwers haven’t been terribly kind to this bill. In today’s populist fueled political environment, it seems almost tone deaf to give a tax break to the rich owners of luxury yachts. That’s the current narrative surrounding this legislation.

Let’s quickly dispel this line of thinking. This bill isn’t for the yacht owners. Continue reading “It’s Not About The Yacht Owners”

It’s Time To Tax Internet Sales

This week’s Courier Herald column:

JCPenney, once among the nation’s largest and proudest retailers, announced last week that it would be closing an additional 138 stores nationwide. Five Georgia stores, including those in Dublin, Macon, Milledgeville, Thomasville, and Tifton will be shuttered.

While JCPenney has had recent struggles trying to define its brand and marketing mix, it is not an outlier in the retail landscape. Macy’s announced in January that it is closing 68 stores nationwide including their Athens location in Georgia Square Mall. Sears Holdings, which operates both Sears and K-Mart stores, is also planning on 150 store closures this year, including Georgia locations in Columbus, Cornelia, Kingsland, and Savannah.

The trend against many established big box retailers is strong, and appears to be growing. There are also signs that it’s not just department stores experiencing capacity issues. A recent Atlanta Journal Constitution report suggests that the metro area may have too many grocery stores.

While some of the closures are due to newer, smaller, and more nimble competitors entering the market, it’s now also easy to see a broad shift from large brick and mortar retailers to internet sales channels. The days of the internet being a new fragile frontier of commerce are over. Continue reading “It’s Time To Tax Internet Sales”

A Bad Idea That Deserves A Quick Death

80,000 jobs and $4 billion-with-a-B in wages is nothing to sneeze at. For a 20 to 30% discount on their state income taxes, filmmakers, television producers and video game companies do their respective things in Georgia, and NOT in places like North Carolina, Louisiana, or Michigan.

That tax break translated into 245 feature film and television projects, $2.2 billion-with-a-B in direct spending for an economic impact of $7 billion, in Georgia, this year. The entertainment industry has started to blossom in Georgia and as much fun as celebrity-spotting may be, it’s more important to make the sector a permanent part of Georgia’s economy.

So when Celeste Headlee notes that Americans for Prosperity has successfully killed off similar tax incentives in Florida, and is now targeting Georgia’s, it’s important we notice those 80,000 jobs. Rick Harris has one of them, and employs about 13 others. Continue reading “A Bad Idea That Deserves A Quick Death”

Rep. Price to Deliver Keynote on Budget at 3 PM (Video)

UPDATE: Archived video of the event is below.

At 3:00 P.M. today, Rep. Tom Price will deliver a keynote address at the Brookings Institution on reforms of the budgetary process.

Price is, of course, Chairman of the House Budget Committee and has been focusing his committee hearings on reforming that arcane process for some time. Given the incoming unified Republican government, his prescriptions have a better than even chance of being filled.

After his speech, the question-and-answer segment is likely to turn to the government’s plans for Obamacare, given his recent nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

With a huge influence on both the federal budget and healthcare policy, Dr. Price has become one of Georgia’s most powerful voices in Washington since Speaker Gingrich.

The prepared remarks are included below in the comment section.

Georgia Workers Thriving In Film Industry

This week’s Courier Herald column:

Photo by Jon Richards
Photo by Jon Richards
The flag draped coffin sitting in the Georgia Capitol’s rotunda indicated that it wasn’t business as usual last week. Yet it was not an overly somber occasion. Instead, it was the increasingly common break from politics as the interior of the gold dome was being used for yet another movie. This one, a feature film about former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Last week it was revealed that Georgia has moved to third position in the number of full length movies produced worldwide. FilmL.A. noted that of 119 feature films produced world wide in 2015, 12 were produced in Georgia. Only California (19) and the United Kingdom (15) produced more. Louisiana produced the same number as Georgia, with both states producing one more than Canada.

Georgia’s growth is not occurring in a vacuum. By comparison, New York saw its number of feature films drop from 13 to 7 according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle. According to the same article, California was not responsible for any of the top 25 live action movies at the box office. Meanwhile, Fayetteville’s Pinewood Studios is cranking out big budget live action films one after another.

Georgia has one of the most lucrative tax incentives for local film and TV production in the nation. As such, producers are voting with their feet and moving projects to the peach state. The existing local studios are operating at or near maximum capacity, with additional studio campuses actively under construction to meet demand. Continue reading “Georgia Workers Thriving In Film Industry”

Congressman Tom Price Previews Proposed GOP Policy Solutions

The U.S. House Republican Conference is planning to roll out a list of policy solutions prior to the Republican National Convention in July, according to 6th District Congressman Tom Price, who spoke at Saturday’s Fulton County GOP breakfast. Comparing the proposals to 1994’s Contract with America, Price told those at the breakfast that “If this campaign is about personalities, if this is a personality contest, then this [election] is a coin toss. If however it’s about policy solutions, then we’re going to win.”

The five proposed solutions will combine issues with proposed legislation, policy blueprints, or white papers. They include national defense, economic growth and taxes, patient centered healthcare, upward mobility, and adjusting the balance of power between the presidency and congress.

The first policy solution deals with national security. over the last five years, $500 billion has been cut from the defense budget, and current policy calls for another $500 billion to be cut in the next five. Rep. Price, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said that it is unacceptable to not provide the needed resources to the American military. Rather than defining a budget for the military, and then restricting its mission to what fits within the budget, the military should determine its mission, and then find the resources needed to accomplish it.

According to Price, the United States spent about 6% of its gross domestic product on national security. Today, the country spends about 3%. The U.S. armed forces are at their smallest level since World War II. The nation’s armed forces must be provided with all the resources it needs to accomplish its mission.

With economic growth at 35-40% below the country’s average rate, tax reform becomes the second policy priority. The slow economic growth since the great recession hurts the ability of Americans to improve their lives. Rep. Price reminded attendees that America has the highest corporate tax rate, and that smaller companies can pay a still higher rate if profits are taxed on their owners’ tax returns. “We believe strongly in positive, pro-growth, common sense tax reform,” Price said. “You will see, before the convention, a significant proposal on that score.” Continue reading “Congressman Tom Price Previews Proposed GOP Policy Solutions”

9th District Candidates Discuss Taxation at Saturday’s Debate

Over the weekend, the Hall County GOP held a debate between the candidates for the 9th congressional district seat held by Rep. Doug Collins. Collins faces primary challenges from former 10th district congressman Paul Broun, retired educator Roger Fitzpatrick, retired National Guard General Bernie Fontaine, and Lanier Tea Party Patriots founder Mike Scupin. Debate topics included taxes and the economy, national security, and ethics in government. This post deals with the tax and economy portion of the debate. The debate over national security is here, and debate over social issues, budgeting and more is here.

The candidates were asked what they would do to reform the federal tax code, and what to do about corporate taxation, especially for multinational companies that are required to pay taxes on profits earned at home and abroad.

Rep. Collins was asked about legislation addressing tax reform that was passed during his term in office. He said that Congress hasn’t been able to get anything done on tax reform because the Obama administration would rather increase taxes than cut them. Congress did pass a $600 billion tax cut at the end of 2015. He is trying to get more support for the FairTax.

Both personal and corporate tax reform is needed, according to Rep. Collins. He cited corporate inversions, where one company purchases another one that is headquartered overseas, and then moves the combined entity’s headquarters there, as another reason to pursue tax reform. According to Collins, any corporate CEO who voted to repatriate foreign profits could be sued for malpractice. Continue reading “9th District Candidates Discuss Taxation at Saturday’s Debate”