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January 30, 2020

Taxpayer Fairness Legislation Approved by House Committee

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Marshall Guest, Metro Atlanta Chamber Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Business Climate, and Jonathan Feldman, Tax Partner at Eversheds Sutherland, speak in support of HB 538 before members of the House Judiciary Committee.

This week HB 538, legislation sponsored by State Rep. Todd Jones to give Georgia taxpayers a level playing field, passed the House Judiciary Committee. The Metro Atlanta Chamber supports the passage of the legislation and testified in support of the bill.

Currently, taxpayers challenging administrative interpretations of Georgia tax laws face an uphill battle as federal judicial doctrine often requires Georgia courts, including the Tax Tribunal, to defer to the Department of Revenue’s interpretation of ambiguous statutes. 

Today the hands of the judge at the tax tribunal are tied to a degree. If the court determines that the statute or regulation in question is ambiguous, and the department’s interpretation is reasonable, even if the taxpayer presents a better interpretation, the department wins and the taxpayer loses. HB 538 will help resolve that issue by ensuring that the judge presiding over these complex tax matters can exercise his or her judgement to determine who has the best interpretation of an ambiguous statute: the taxpayer or the department.

HB 538 now heads to the House Rules Committee to be considered for a vote on the House floor.

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