By: Jessica Szilagyi - All on Georgia
The two Ballot Referendums, also known as “legislatively-referred state statutes, appear because the state legislature voted to place those measures on the ballot for voters to decide. [ Georgia does not allow citizen-initiated ballot referendums.] The proposed changes referred by the legislature are changes in the laws – by way of approval or rejection – but do not alter the state Constitution.
Referendum A – Provides for a Homestead Exemption for residents of certain municipal corporations
The referendum stems from House Bill 820 in the Georgia legislature. It was approved 158-6 in the House and 55-0 in the Senate. State Representatives John Pezold, Michael Caldwell, Park Cannon, Matt Gurtler, David Stover, and Scot Turner voted NO. Five of the six of the NO votes are limited government conservative state representatives.
The question on the ballot will read:
“Do you approve a new homestead exemption for a municipal corporation that is located in more than one county, that levies a sales tax for the purposes of a metropolitan area system of public transportation, and that has within its boundaries an independent school system, from ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in the amount of the difference between the current year assessed value of a home and the adjusted base year value, provided that the lowest base year value will be adjusted yearly by 2.6%?
This one is confusing, so bear with me.
For most people, this referendum will not apply because they do not meet all the criteria. The measure was sponsored in the House & Senate by metro Atlanta legislators, but once it becomes law, it could affect any city or county that someday meets the criteria.
The “adjusted base year value” is defined as either the lowest base year value or, if available, the previous base year value adjusted annually by 2.6 percent plus any change in value. “Lowest base year value” for exemptions first granted in the 2019 tax year is defined as the lowest among 2016, 2017, and 2018 valuations multiplied by 1.0423, which is the inflation rate for December 2015 through December 2017.
These municipalities referenced already have different millage rate and taxation guidelines.
VOTING YES — means you support the measure to provide a homestead property tax exemption for some cities equal to the difference between the current year and the adjusted base year.
VOTING NO — means you do NOT support the measure to provide a homestead property tax exemption for some cities equal to the difference between the current year and the adjusted base year.
If approved, it will change and make law OCGA 48-5-44.1. Approval by the voters means it will take effect on January 1, 2019, and will apply to all tax years beginning on or after that date.
Referendum B – Provides a tax exemption for the mentally disabled.
The referendum stems from House Bill 196 in the Georgia legislature. This bill started off as a music industry tax credit piece of legislation but was gutted from its original form to include the language for the nonprofits in order to get the bill passed before the close of the legislative session. Therefore, if you search the legislation, it may appear with a different name and subject matter but the content reflects what the referendum pertains to.
This initiative was sponsored by State Representative Matt Dollar and passed 49-5 in the Senate and 149-3 in the House. The three dissenters in the House were State Reps Matt Gurtler (R), Brenda Lopez (D), and Matt Dollar (likely because his bill was gutted from its original intent and replaced with an initiative of someone else.) The give dissenters in the Senate were Senators Bill Heath (R), Lester Jackson (D), Emanuel Jones (D), David Lucas (D), and Josh McKoon (R ).
The question on the ballot will read:
“Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes on nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled if they include business corporations in the ownership structure for financing purposes?”
B is much easier to understand than A and is a simple exemption for nonprofit organizations that assist the mentally disabled, even in instances where corporations are involved. Essentially, homes that are owned by Limited Liability Corporations, LLCs, are exempt from taxation if the parent company is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.
Concerns would be that corporations would use the nonprofit industry as a tax shelter. Additionally, any ‘exemption’ or manipulation of the tax code provides for a different standard of treatment for a specific group of people – making some more equal under the law than others.
VOTING YES means you support this measure to allow a tax exemption for nonprofits that serve the mentally disabled even in instances when housing constructed is paid for by financing from corporations.
VOTING NO means you DO NOT support this measure to allow a tax exemption for nonprofits that serve the mentally disabled even in instances when housing constructed is paid for by financing from corporations.
If approved, it would amend OCGA 48-5-41 and would become law beginning January 1, 2019
Republished Courtesy of All on Georgia
Referendum A - at the heart of this proposition is "local control" of policy. The majority of the elected legislators in the City of Atlanta did not want something done. Instead of leaving it up to the voters in that City to make this change, a majority of legislators in the rest of the State decided to have voters in the entire State make the decision for the City. Plantation politics at its worst...