Monday, March 2, 2015

HB 215 approved by committee

Georgia House Bill 215, which would change sales tax rates and distributions in DeKalb County, has been approved by the House Ways & Means Committee. Next it will be considered by the House Rules committee which will probably schedule the bill for a floor vote. The bill would:
  • Provide for a vote on whether to replace the existing HOST with a new “equalized HOST.” 
  • In addition to the equalized HOST, an additional 1 percent county special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) would be put before voters countywide. 
  • Both ballot questions would have to be approved in order for either to go into effect. 
The existing HOST credit saves homeowners a several hundred dollars a year depending on their property value and tax district. For example, a resident with a $200,000 home in unincorporated DeKalb saved about $790 on their county property taxes in 2014 because of HOST. A resident with a $200,000 home within Decatur’s city limits would have saved about $390 on their county property tax bill in 2014 because of HOST. The HOST tax credit does not alter municipal tax bills.

HB 215 stipulates that proceeds from the equalized HOST would continue benefiting all DeKalb County property taxpayers, whether their property is in unincorporated DeKalb or in DeKalb’s cities. The amount of HOST credit should increase somewhat under this proposal because all of the equalized HOST would go toward property tax relief rather than a portion of it going toward infrastructure improvements as the current formula dictates. Revenues from the new SPLOST would be disbursed per existing state law in accordance with intergovernmental agreements between DeKalb and cities.

From a high-level tax standpoint, what the proposal would do is essentially to take some of the local tax burden off of residential property taxpayers and shift it slightly toward sales taxpayers. However, DeKalb cities would still have the discretion to adjust their own millage rates to offset foregone HOST revenue under the old formula.

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