Originally created 02/23/98

Ga. sales tax solution 022398 - The Augusta Chronicle



State Rep. Barbara Bunn, R-Conyers, has come up with a good solution to a longstanding problem whereby many Georgia counties, including Richmond and Columbia, are not getting back from the state Department of Revenue their rightful share of sales tax revenues.

Somehow, what counties expect they should receive and what the agency says they'll receive are often so far out of whack that many have lost confidence in the system.

There's no accountability and even the revenues returned don't flow in a timely fashion. It's difficult for local governments to function efficiently when their revenue stream is inefficiently -- or, even worse, incorrectly -- administered.

Bunn's H.B. 1663 fixes this by enlisting the help of businesses. The measure requires retailers and sales firms to send a tear-off form to local governments stating the amount of local and use taxes they've collected each month.

The businesses are already required to remit the taxes they collect to the Revenue Department so this new step would simply be a part of the same information they're already reporting. It shouldn't be that much of a hardship.

Bunn does point out there'll be some cost to counties to compile the data received, but that's a small price to pay relative to the amount of money that'll be gained from having an accountable system. Moreover, counties pleased with the agency's return on revenues would not have to participate in the program.

Richmond Tax Commissioner Jerry Saul believes the Bunn bill will be a big improvement over the present haphazard, irresponsible system. We join him in urging area lawmakers not only to vote for the Bunn bill, but to fight for it.