Republican state lawmakers appear ready to raise taxes or fees to pay for Georgia’s underfunded transportation network, a development setting off alarm bells for some voters.
"I think they can find what they need to improve the roads with what they've got," says George Bicknell, a midtown Atlanta resident."We fund a lot of things that don’t need funding and nobody’s willing to let their own pet projects be cut and so the cry is always 'more taxes,' not 'let’s prioritize what we've got.'"
Georgians will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for governor and U.S. Senate. But they’ll also face some ‘ballot initiatives,’ those questions that come at the end of the ticket. This year, Cobb residents decide whether to renew a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.
Fulton County scored an initial victory Thursday in a court case that will determine whether the county had the authority to approve a 17 percent property tax increase. Fulton commissioners voted for the property tax hike last month.
Senior Cobb County Superior Court Judge G. Grant Brantley decided not to block Fulton County from collecting about $1,300 in additional taxes owed by 7 current and former state lawmakers filing suit against Fulton. The lawmakers asked the judge to prevent the county from collecting the money while the case is underway.
Six Fulton state lawmakers and one former state lawmaker have filed suit against Fulton County to block Fulton from raising its property tax rate. The legal action comes after the Fulton commission voted to raise the county’s millage rate by more than 17% this week. Those suing the county claim it violates a state law that says the county cannot raise its property tax rate until 2015.
Fulton County could potentially face a court challenge after passing a more than 17 percent millage rate increase Wednesday. A state lawmaker says she and others are exploring legal options because of a state law banning the county from raising property taxes until 2015.
Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, authored the 2013 law which prohibits Fulton from increasing property taxes until next year. She thinks the county’s decision to raise its millage rate breaks that law.
WABE reporter Michelle Wirth says that the Fulton County Commission has voted 4-3 to approve a 17% increase in the property tax, despite a state law that says Fulton can't increase its property tax until 2015.
Fulton County residents will soon see higher property tax bills. Today, the Fulton County commission voted 4 to 3 in favor of a more than 17 percent property tax increase. The increase could lead to a court challenge because of a Georgia law banning the county from raising taxes until 2015.
Despite the law, Commissioners voted to raise the county’s general fund millage rate by 1.57 mills. Commission Chairman John Eaves says he believes the county is on solid legal footing.
Fulton County Commissioners are expected to vote today on a proposed property tax increase of more than 17 percent.
The vote comes after the commission decided to delay a vote on the proposed increase last month to allow three additional public hearings. If approved, county officials say it would mean a $140 increase for those with a $275,000 home.
During the first of three hearings, several Fulton County residents called on county commissioners to reject a proposed property tax increase of more than 17 percent.
The majority speaking during the sparsely attended hearing asked commissioners to vote against a plan to raise Fulton County's millage rate by 1.57 mills. If approved, that would mean a $140 increase for those with a $275,000 home. College Park Resident Kip Carr asked commissioners to trim the county’s budget instead.
Cobb County Commissioners will hear a proposal Tuesday by the South Cobb Development Authority to raise property taxes on businesses and rental properties in part of South Cobb. Officials say a 3.5 mills increase would help buy blighted properties and improve interchanges and streetscapes.
Boundaries for the special services district would stretch from the Cobb County and Fulton County line all the way to the Cobb and Douglass County border. It would also include areas north of I-20 along the Six Flags over Georgia corridor.
Fulton County commissioners voted 5 to 2 to advertise a potential property tax increase that could amount to a more than 17 percent increase for county homeowners. If commissioners approve the increase, the matter will likely end up in court. That’s because a state law prohibits Fulton from raising property taxes until 2015.
Gas prices are heading down nationwide and in Georgia.
The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded was $3.65 Sunday, May 11, which was the twelfth day in a row the price declined.
American Automobile Association spokesman Mark Jenkins says prices should continue to drop throughout the summer because of unprecedented crude oil supply. “Here in the Gulf Coast refineries, they’re at record levels of petroleum,” said Jenkins. And last month, they reached their highest monthly average of production since 1988.”
The Georgia Senate approved a resolution 42 to 11 to let voters decide whether to cap the state’s income tax rate at its current level within the state’s Constitution.
Right now, the state’s income tax rate is 6 percent for all Georgians who make more than $7,000. Republican Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer says his resolution will help the state be more competitive. He says although Georgia’s income tax rate is lower than the federal tax rate, it’s higher than most other Southern states.
Fulton County could be on a collision course to court after passing a 2014 budget yesterday that includes a 15 percent tax increase. Several state lawmakers in the Fulton Republican delegation say if county commissioners finalize the tax increase later this year, they are breaking a state law capping Fulton’s property taxes.
House Republican Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones says the 1.57 percent millage rate increase would violate a state law freezing the county’s property tax rate until the beginning of 2015.
The US Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday ruled legally married same-sex couples will be allowed to file their taxes jointly starting in 2013.
The ruling comes in response to the June 26 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
The ruling applies to couples regardless of where they live, though only extends to couples whose marriage is recognized by a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legalized, not civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Shoppers are already taking advantage of Georgia’s sales tax holiday. During the next two days, shoppers can purchase clothing, computers and school supplies under certain dollar amounts tax free. WABE’s Michelle Wirth spoke with shoppers about the holiday.
Cobb County property owners may see some relief in their tax bills next month. County commissioners are considering a proposal that would slightly lower the millage rate.
The proposal reduces the rate by .2 mills. So the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $14 less than last year. Cobb County commission chair Tim Lee says he’s fulfilling a promise he made after commissioners had to raise the property tax rate significantly in 2011.
Fulton County says it is on firm legal ground in rejecting a new state law that stops the County from raising property tax rates for two years.
But an Emory University law scholar says that may not be the case.
Fulton County’s position is that House Bill 604, passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, violates the County's right to home rule. Home rule was the focus of a state constitutional overhaul in 1983.
The Gwinnett County School Board is considering a plan to raise property taxes. If approved, it would be the first increase in eight years.
The board is considering a total millage rate increase of 1.3 mills. That would mean approximately $101 more per year for those living in a $200,000 dollar home. Rick Cost is the Chief Financial officer for the district. He says the plan has been proposed to help avoid teacher furlough days, add school resource officers and repay bonds used for constructing classrooms.
President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal includes $75 billion to expand pre-kindergarten programs. It’s the same plan the president introduced when he visited a pre-k center in Decatur in February. Due to the success of its pre-k program, Georgia could receive a share of the money.
The president’s proposal increases the cigarette tax to pay for the expansion. Bobby Cagle, the commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning, says he supports a pre-k expansion, but favors an alternative funding source.
Officials at the Internal Revenue Service, remind filers to take an extra-close look at the paperwork before turning it over to the government.
"Probably one of the most costly errors that I've seen over the last 28 years has been where individuals complete everything, double-check all the math, double-check all the social security numbers and then send in the return without signing it. So that's been a very costly error," says IRS spokesman Mark Green.
The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled today that the City of College Park can tax businesses at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The two cities have been feuding for years over whether College Park can tax businesses at the airport, some of which lie within the College Park city limits.
By a six-to-one decision, the Court upheld an appeals court ruling that allows College Park to levy taxes on airport business licenses within its boundaries. Atlanta City Attorney Cathy Hampton told WABE that the City is reviewing its next steps in the suit.
A bill making its way through the Georgia Senate right now would stop Clayton County from taxing vendors at the Atlanta Airport. But county officials say creating a new law will not necessarily stop it.
Since 2010, Clayton County has collected more than $10 dollars in ad valorem taxes from airport vendors. Just two years ago, the county lost tax revenue when the state gave Delta Airlines tax breaks on fuel.
With just over a month until the April 15 tax deadline, Georgia Congressman Tom Price visited Chamblee Monday to encourage eligible Georgians to take advantage of a free tax preparation program.
Congressman Price urged Georgians to take advantage of the IRS and Georgia Free File Program. The program allows taxpayers who make $57,000 or less to file their state and federal taxes online for free.
Lines in at least three Metro Atlanta county tax offices were longer than normal Friday as the state began phasing out the so-called birthday tax. Under the new system, Georgians purchasing vehicles or getting their vehicles as of March 1 will have to pay a one-time 6.5 percent tax rather than the yearly Ad Valorem tax. Those purchasing vehicles between February 28 and January 1, 2012 can choose to opt into the new system.