ATLANTA - The Georgia Senate passed legislation Monday that would bring additional scrutiny to the state’s lucrative tax credit and exemption programs.
Senate Bill 302, sponsored by Sen. John Albers, would let the governor’s budget office contract with outside auditors to examine up to five tax-incentive programs each year, upon request from certain committee heads.
The measure passed unanimously and heads to the Georgia House.
Gov. Brian Kemp vetoed a similar bill brought last year by Albers, R-Roswell, that did not give the budget office the ability to contract with independent auditors to complete the audits.
Under this year’s bill, auditors would dive into the economic pros and cons of the state’s many tax credits, exemptions, rebates, deferrals and other business incentives that can fly under state lawmakers’ radar during busy legislative sessions.
Only the chairs of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee could order the audits.
“I believe this is great fiscal policy for us,” Albers said from the Senate floor Monday.
Albers’ bill followed a Senate study committee report done in 2017 that found shortcomings in how the state monitors whether a given tax incentive is spurring business and job creation as it was intended to do.
It also came amid back-to-back reports from the state Department of Audits and Accounts 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.
Some local economists have pushed back on the findings of those two audits, noting they ignored the huge impacts the state’s film industry has even if the tax credit’s metrics and rules may be looser than they should be.
Even so, the film-credit audits spurred calls from state lawmaker to keep closer watch over tax breaks and credits in Georgia.