PTC wants more sales tax, but from whom?

Claude Paquin's picture

In the 11 educational articles I wrote for The Citizen in the weeks preceding the November school SPLOST vote in Fayette County, I pretty much explained how local sales tax is collected in Georgia. I certainly made it clear that the state of Georgia keeps 1 percent of our local sales tax and the merchants get another one-half of 1 percent.

The Citizen now reports that the Peachtree City mayor wants to “privatize” local sales tax collection through a system linked to each merchant’s cash register.

I believe he may not be seeking to privatize local sales tax collections so much as to come up with a system which gives the county all the sales tax money to which it is entitled.

The merchants who collect sales tax from Fayette County residents are expected to complete sales tax reports on which they show, county by county, the sales tax collected in each of them. Many of these merchants get sloppy with this and pick either their own county or some big county as the tax source. This happens mostly with goods delivered from outside the county. This cheats some counties of the local tax to which they are entitled, and it rewards the wrong county.

Most merchants don’t care. The state of Georgia runs this program, but it is unlikely it cares very much either.

Mayor Logsdon’s proposal to tie local tax to local cash registers is unlikely to solve the problem I have described.

Peachtree City has proven pretty aggressive in hogging local sales tax, both the LOST and the road SPLOST. The city has argued that the sales tax collected in PTC belongs to PTC. The people who live in Fayette County but outside PTC often shop in PTC, because the unincorporated part of Fayette County has little commercial life. PTC is ready, willing and able to take their tax and keep it within PTC.

In past years, I have explained how the 1-percent LOST cheats the residents of the unincorporated part of Fayette County of one-half of what they contribute, to the benefit of the cities (mostly PTC) in the county. Our county commissioners have gone along with this, and our citizens have never seemed to care.

The PTC mayor’s main goal is most likely to collect more money. I doubt that he cares whether it is at the expense of the rest of the county’s residents.

At the very least some of us ought to let him know we have some inkling of what’s at stake. I agree with him that our sales tax dollars should not go to other counties. I don’t agree with him that county sales tax collected in PTC belongs only, or even mostly, to PTC citizens when it should belong to the whole county.

[Claude Y. Paquin, a Fayette County resident, is a retired lawyer and actuary.]

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