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Ongoing Effort to Prevent Georgian Law Enforcement from Paying Income Taxes | Georgia

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(The Center Square) – A group of Republicans in Georgia has proposed a bill to exempt law enforcement from paying state income tax.

Representative Rick Williams, R-Milledgeville, the main sponsor of House Bill 992said the measure would help smaller municipalities and counties provide an incentive to law enforcement officers “without imposing such hardship on their budgets.”

Law enforcement only fills 93% of their available positions, according to the Police Executive Research Forum. Hirings were down slightly, and resignations and retirements increased from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2021. The largest increase during the year was among executives who resigned.

There was a 45% increase in the retirement rate among all police departments surveyed by the Police Executive Research Forum in June. Retirement rates were highest in small organizations.

According to the report, agencies with 50 to 249 agents saw a 59% increase in retirements, and agencies with fewer than 50 agents saw a 49% increase in retirements. In agencies with 250 to 499 agents, the retirement rate was 19%, according to the report, and the retirement rate increased by 27% in those with 500 or more agents.

Georgia Department of Public Safety Chief of Staff Maj. Joshua Lamb told a legislative panel in September that higher salaries were “mandatory” to recruit and retain current U.S. Force employees. order. Lamb said the department has a 22% turnover rate and annual job applications have dropped 60% over the past three years.

Governor Brian Kemp awarded federal state law enforcement agencies COVID-19 relief funding to provide $1,000 bounties to officers and other first responders the same month. The Senate on Friday unanimously approved a measure allowing Georgians to get a tax credit for donations to law enforcement. Agencies can use the funding for hiring or salary increases.

Williams did not have an estimate of the cost of the measure in state tax revenue.

According to Indeed.com, the average base salary for a law enforcement officer is $41,519 per year. The state tax rate for such high income is 5.75%, which means that on average, $2,387 of their state-funded salaries would be collected by the state for taxes.

NAACP Atlanta President Richard Rose said the bill is another piece of legislation this session that does nothing to help Georgians.

“This bill takes tax dollars and does nothing to address the overall law enforcement problem,” Rose said.

Lawmakers should look for other ways to incentivize the workforce, such as offering scholarships, canceling student debt or other educational options, Rose said.

“Otherwise they’ll end up with the same bad guys and the same unqualified people,” Rose said.

Two other states, Kentucky and New Mexico, are considering similar proposals to exclude law enforcement officers from paying certain taxes. Some states currently offer tax breaks to police and other first responders.

HB 992 is assigned to the House Committee on Ways & Means. It must be approved by the House and the Senate before being sent to the governor for final approval.