Abrams calls for $1 billion tax rebate for state surplus
Following the official release of revenue numbers for the state suggesting a massive tax surplus for Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is calling for citizens to be the recipient of the surplus with a $1 billion taxpayer rebate.
Abrams wants Gov. Brian Kemp to use the federal COVID-19 relief money that Georgia received to give Georgians the rebate as soon as possible since her opponent, Kemp, can’t unilaterally allocate surplus money for tax refunds without legislative approval and the legislature does not convene again until 2023.
Abrams is calling on Kemp to put politics aside and negotiate with the Biden administration to allow the rebate to Georgians using COVID relief money.
Abrams said she would tailor the new rebates for Georgia households making below $250,000 a year. That’s about 95% of income tax filers in the state. Said Abrams, ”We need to plan for this now – and tell people to plan for it — because Georgia families continue to struggle. They need money in their pockets and roofs over their heads. And we need to absolutely invest to help them meet this moment.”
The rebates under Abrams’ proposal would amount to $500 for joint tax filers, $375 for heads of households, and $250 for single tax filers.
The state recently received $2.4 billion in COVID relief money, which under Georgia law, Kemp decides how it can be spent. The catch is that federal officials have made it clear it can’t be used for tax cuts. During the 2022 session, the General Assembly approved a similar, $1.1 billion refund using state surplus money during the 2022 session.
Said Abrams, “If Brian Kemp cares about helping Georgia families deal with rising costs, he should work with our U.S. senators to investigate whether he can immediately use (COVID) funds to issue these relief checks to Georgians. Unfortunately, throughout this crisis, he has criticized the financial help Democrats have provided and refused to work with the Biden administration to help hardworking families.”
Tate Mitchell, spokesman for Kemp’s campaign, responded, saying, “As he has done previously, Governor Kemp will consult with legislative leadership and state budget officials to determine the best way forward for both the state’s surplus funds and federal coronavirus relief dollars – and he won’t be asking for Joe Biden’s permission.”
The state announced Friday that it ended the fiscal year on June 30 has taken in about 23% — or $6.19 billion — more in revenue than in a then-record fiscal 2021. This follows the announcement the day before that Georgia received the second half of the $4.8 billion it was expected to receive in COVID relief money from the federal government.
The final numbers on the state surplus for fiscal 2022 won’t be determined until all the bills are paid, but it is expected to again be a record amount, likely over $5 billion.
In a campaign pledge, Abrams has said if elected, she will spend some of the most recent surpluses to give raises to teachers and law enforcement officers and pay for an expansion of Medicaid, the health program for the poor and disabled, to cover more people.
Said Abrams, ”The governor has done nothing to stave off the housing crisis, and these are dollars that can be immediately put to use. We can do everything I listed without raising taxes. We have the resources to do what’s right for Georgia. This isn’t about whether we have the money. This is about doing what’s right.”