Georgia tax credit oversight bill moves through Legislature

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Lucrative tax exemptions and credits in Georgia could come under close watch from independent auditors under a bill that passed out of a Senate committee Monday.

Senate Bill 302 comes after a scathing set of audits the state Department of Audits and Accounts released last month that found Georgia’s film tax credit has been poorly managed while being touted as having more economic impact on the state than it actually does.

Sponsored by Sen. John Albers, the legislation would let the governor’s budget office contract with outside auditors to scrutinize up to five tax-incentive programs each year, upon request from state lawmakers.

Auditors would dive into the economic pros and cons of the state’s many tax credits, exemptions, rebates, deferrals and other business incentives.

“All the things that each one of us would do if we were investing our money,” Albers, R-Roswell, said Monday of the audit’s scope.

The bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee and heads to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, the committee’s chairman, said tightening oversight of tax programs would help put Georgia on par with other states that do a better job tracking the performance of their incentives.

“We can do better here at making sure we’re making the best use of taxpayers’ dollars,” Hufstetler, R-Rome, said Monday.

Albers’ bill follows similar legislation he brought last year that Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed since it did not give his office authority to hire independent auditors. See more here.

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