This week HB 538, legislation sponsored by State Rep. Todd Jones to give Georgia taxpayers a level playing field, passed the full Georgia House. The Metro Atlanta Chamber supports the passage of the legislation and testified in support of the bill in the House Judiciary Committee. Read MAC's letter of support here.
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 heads next to the Senate Judiciary committee for consideration.