Al Gray: Now, A Fair Deal from the Governor

A Fair Deal From the Governor

Originally posted by CityStink
Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012
Augusta, GA
By AL Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
Among Governor Nathan Deal’s 2012 legislative proposals there is real gem, one that cries out for implementation and doesn’t require new legislation – taxation of internet sales. Enforcing the abandoned use tax requirements already on the books  will increase Georgia’s tax revenues from sales and use taxes to where they should be, increase fair compliance, and put Georgia’s imperiled retailers on equal footing with out-of-state wholesalers and online sales sites, like the booming
Cries of “taxing the internet” or this being a tax increase are wrong. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The existing laws of the states with sales taxes, including Georgia, invariably include a reciprocating use tax. Georgia has a use tax that operates this way – if the consumer buys an item of taxable tangible personal property where the seller did not charge the sales tax, that consumer is legally bound to complete a use tax return and pay the use tax due to the state at the time of filing the return.
The use tax return form and instructions explaining how the use tax operates are found online here.
No new legislation is needed. This is not a new tax. It is the Georgia “Fair tax.” Everybody pays, or they should be paying. Why not allow and encourage the Georgia Department of Revenue to audit residents for payment of the use tax on their online purchases? It can be done electronically by requesting taxpayers’ annual credit card listing of transactions to allow the revenue auditors to verify that purchases from unregistered, unremitting out-of state firms have been reported for use taxes and that the taxes have been paid on taxable transactions.
Auditing use taxes would very quickly gain compliance from the imposition of interest at 12% and onerous penalties, provided that the use tax return was updated to provide for payment of these items. Another boost to compliance is that there is an infinite audit period for residents who have not filed, because failure to file eliminates the 3 year statute of limitations. Couple 12% interest onto 10 years of taxes will get anyone’s attention!
The first group to be audited and brought into compliance with the laws of the state should be the members of the Georgia General Assembly. The politicos can lead by example or face being made examples. The Georgia Department of Revenue should be required to audit these Georgia citizens first, publicize failures to comply, and impose full penalties and interest for a number of years.
Once citizens and legislators, alike, rediscover this Fair tax, Georgia’s retailers will have more than a level playing field because of the onerous shipping and handling charges applied by the online sellers.
Congratulations to Governor Nathan Deal on this very timely, justified, reasonable, and fair component to tax reform. It is one that will work. Thank you, governor, and let’s roll with this great idea.

Good Deal.***

Al Gray

Sen. Hardie Davis’ Tax-Free Energy Drink

Taste Grates, Less Filling

Orginally posted on CityStink
January 14, 2012
Augusta, GA
By Al Gray
The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s leading companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.
When Augusta Democrat Senator Hardie Davis heartily endorsed Nathan Deal’s latest financial brainstorm, the elimination of sales and USE tax on energy used in manufacturing we were surprised for a host of reasons, the main one being that it will cost Augusta Richmond County $millions in lost tax revenue. In a time that the state and municipal governments are desperate for revenue Davis wants to give away stable sources of sales taxes that cannot be replaced? He wants to shift the Georgia tax burden from corporations to constituents on fixed incomes, like social security recipients?
Then it hit us. Hardie Davis is switching to the Republican Party. Good for him. It will be a marriage made in haven – the Gold Dome. It might be even smart politics. Everyone involved can guzzle tax free energy drinks courtesy of the Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association (TIPAC). The legislators have a ken for fun drinks, but to constituents this one grates the tongue and doesn’t fill the revenue coffers with anything more than hot air.
If Hardie isn’t going GOP, he has sure failed us with a stellar imitation. Now right about now, Hardie and every other GOP hawker of this money give-away is screaming about passing this exemption to become “competitive.” Change the word to “cannibalistic” and you about have it. What this give-away does is to strip Augusta Richmond County and the 13 county region of $11 million of sales tax revenues over 10 years if you believe the projections underlying the huge new transportation tax increase. This writer knows the losses to be far worse. You can multiply that $11 million (see page 7 ) by 4 – the loss on the new 1% transportation tax, plus the existing 3% local, special, and educational taxes, for a stunning $44 million over ten years! If the legislators tinker with not having the exemptions apply to local sales, that subverts the simplicity always cited for a sales tax.
Just one Augusta manufacturer provided a written statement in 2010 to the Georgia Tax Reform Council that indicated that her plant pays $2 million a year in state sales taxes on electricity and a staggering $1.5 million a year in local Augusta Richmond County taxes. Right about now some of you readers are exclaiming “The consumers of the plant’s products really pay those sales taxes!” Right. The problem is that the vast majority of consumers paying the embedded Georgia and Augusta tax of our manufacturers are in other states. Tax payments by consumers spread the revenues around so that they come to rest outside of Georgia. Does this still sound like a good idea?
The $1.5 million Augusta will lose from that plant on SALES taxes is probably dwarfed by USE taxes that are paid by every Augusta manufacturer that uses a heating process loop in any of their production and manufacturing utility systems. This new exemption also covers industrial fuels, such as coal, natural gas, or diesel fuel in addition to electricity. This revenue loss could easily be between another $2 million and $3.5 million of Augusta local taxes (without the new transportation tax). How will Augusta make up the loss of $3.5 to $5 million of local tax? Is it that easy? On the state tax side of the ledger, doesn’t Georgia need the corresponding $7 million or so to pay teachers?
We sympathize with Georgia companies who are hurting, but what about her people?
The Hardie Davis tax free energy drink won’t sustain financial life in a host of other Georgia municipalities with similar concentrations of manufacturing, such as Chatham, Glynn, and Daugherty counties. Even worse will be the unsuspecting smaller counties with an unknown large energy user. State sales tax reporting to counties doesn’t show the source of the revenues, so many really don’t know what is about to hit them. For example, even though the textile industry has moved largely offshore, electricity-guzzling yarn plants have remained in Georgia and the USA. Can little Rabun County afford the loss of $1 million in sales taxes? Heard? Mitchell? Putnam? Effingham? Bartow?
Proponents of the tax free energy treat cite competitiveness needs between the states. This has some validity, as other states have chosen to cannibalize tax revenues in a futile attempt to overcome the $30 an hour labor cost difference with China, just as Georgia has futilely spent as much as $168,000 per $40,000 auto plant job in the race for our politicians to claim some very strange bragging rights. This will be just throwing good money after bad.
Since the justification for this tax break is to attract new plants one compromise that could be made comes out of Georgia’s own manufacturing tax rules from the 1980’s. Back then, a new manufacturer or a major plant expansion qualified for new exemptions, while existing ones had to be content with the incentive packages that they received upon building in Georgia. This would satisfy the lack of competitiveness for new plants without destroying the fruits of the past and the revenues of many Georgia counties with them.
That we would welcome Hardily and Senator Davis could keep his Democratic Party bona fides. Who knows, Augusta even might get an energy drink bottler, with $168,000 per job incentives, of course. Better yet, let’s return good old fashioned mathematics to the legislature. Professor Davis can lead our way instead of drinking Gov. Nathan Deal’s Kool-aid.***




Magnolia Trace: Money Trail Traces to the Gold Dome

**City Stink Exclusive!**

Magnolia Traces to the Gold Dome


Originally posted by CityStink
December 8, 2011
Augusta, GA
By IndyInjun

The author, Al M. Gray is President of Cost Recovery Works, Inc., a provider of Cost Avoidance and Cost Recovery for America’s well-known companies, businesses and governments desiring Superior Returns.

Old Gomer Pyle used to say “ Surprise, Surprise, SURPRIZE!!!” Well, the money trail from Magnolia Trace , LLC to Affordable Equity Partners of Columbia Missouri, might fork, meander, double back, and double CROSS, but the sleuth hounds of Augusta Today and are rarely shaken or even stirred in pursuit. The quarry was found in the bowels of a gold-domed lair in Atlanta.
Does this surprise anyone? It shouldn’t.
Affordable Equity Partners, Inc. boasts a leadership team headed by Jeffery Smith of parent JES Holdings, with affiliated companies named ES Dev Co, Inc., Fairway Construction Co., Inc., Fairway Management, Inc., and Capital Health Management, Inc. An article on exposes how Smith and his companies have played the campaign contribution and lobbying game very well in Missouri to the tune of capturing $26 million for low-income housing projects into 2009.
Has AEP played the same game in Georgia? Their own words suffice to provide our answer. “AEP has been involved in Georgia since the initial introduction of the state tax credit and was instrumental in formulating the revisions to the statutes in 2001.”
At this juncture, the process of following all of the related parties, employees, PAC’s and agents is not complete. There will be more to come.
What is revealed so far by researching these entities’ contributions via the Georgia Ethics Commission Campaign Contributor database?
Lt. Governor Casey Cagle got $882.50 from AEP going back to 2008. Sister company Capital Health Management Inc. gave Cagle another $10, 453.50 and gave House Speaker David Ralston $5000 in 2011, this nonelection year.
Then there are the PAC’s.
At this juncture, the Augusta Today and team is investigating another Missouri based entity that was noted to be working in conjunction with the AEP affiliate Capital Health Management to fund one of these PAC’s. The company has contributed many thousands of dollars to Georgia’s Legislators.
Was it coincidence that Ron Cross, a Nathan Deal supporter, and Trey Allen, Nathan Deal’s Columbia County Campaign Chairman, scurried to meet with Magnolia Trace developers in County Attorney Doug Batchelor’s office?
Or did they get calls from Casey Cagle, Nathan Deal, David Ralston, Ben Harbin, and Lee Anderson “encouraging” the meeting and their subsequent resolution in support of this unwanted public housing development?
Only the unforeseen and unpredicted are surprises.
Even a Gomer Pyle knows the score on this one.***
More to come.
Below is a a link showing the State of Georgia Housing tax  plan that AEP helped write for itself into law. It’s heavy reading for those of you with some time to kill.