Bill Exempting State Income Tax on Vets’ Retirement Benefits Expected for 2016 Legislative Session

The Savannah Chamber of Commerce released its list of legislative priorities on Thursday, topped by a request to eliminate the state income tax on the retirement pay of veterans. According to a story in the Savannah Morning News, the exemption would be revenue neutral, paid for by raising the tax on each pack of cigarettes by 28 cents.

House District 166 Rep. Jesse Petrea plans to introduce the bill for the 2016 legislative session.

Petrea called the bill, which will eliminate all state taxes on veterans’ retirement benefits, “the right thing to do.”

“This bill is good for veteran families and good for Georgia businesses and industry,” he said. “We’re all familiar with the issues our businesses face in finding a skilled workforce.

“What better way to alleviate that problem than to incentivize patriotic, disciplined and skilled individuals to stay in Georgia?”

Petrea pointed out that veterans already have that perk in Florida, Alabama and Tennessee.

Other Savannah Chamber priorities for the upcoming session include increasing the amount of funds available for marketing tourism in the Peach State, and providing funding for new facilities at Armstrong University and Savannah State College. The 2016 legislative session will be gaveled in on January 11th, 2016.


  1. saltycracker says:

    Florida doesn’t have an income tax. With all the varieties of “the right thing to do” with our tax code it supports so many bill writers, lawyers, lobbyists and bureaucrats to redistribute… many on the corporate side we are moving to zero sum….

  2. Feeling the Bern says:

    a few pennies here a few pennies there.

    Next thing you know, tobacco will replace cannabis as a black market commodity.

  3. gcp says:

    Additionally Tenn. taxes only dividends and interest but not individual earned income and Alabama exempts most pension income. Georgia currently doesn’t tax most pension income for seniors.

    Maybe Georgia should apply changes to everyone rather than a few. It’s time to move from income tax to a sales tax.

    • Charlie says:

      We get 1/2 of the state’s revenues from income taxes. We get 1/4 of the revenues from sales taxes. If you want to eliminate the income tax, you need to be prepared for sales taxes to triple OR for more items you don’t currently pay sales tax on to be taxed.

      It continues to amaze me how many people somehow believe this will result in a tax cut for themselves. For most Georgians it’s quite likely that this would result in paying more taxes. Especially retirees that already have an income tax exemption. Especially when the sales tax is added back to groceries. And like it or not, with the continued shift toward online shopping the days of “free sales tax” will come to an end. Because we can’t keep shifting the tax burden to sales taxes all the while folks thinking it’s a way to cut their taxes. Because it isn’t. It just changes the economic distortion of our state’s tax code.

      • blakeage80 says:

        This brings up a good question. What does the average Floridian pay in taxes? Also, I feel like we are in a good spot here in Georgia. 6% seems to keep those under the Gold Dome honest while meeting most of our state’s needs. Even if you eliminated all government waste (however you want to define it), the money has lots of truly useful places to be used. (as in, not used on moochers)

        I’d focus more on the leviathan that is the Federal tax code. There is far more there to be reformed than at the state level.

        • blakeage80 says:

          The tax foundation has FL at a tax burden of 9.2% and Georgia at 8.8%. Those numbers suggest that the ‘let’s do it like Florida’ approach would indeed leave me with less in my pocket to spend.

      • saltycracker says:

        If I recall Florida sales tax is 6% then the locals pile on. Not to overlook the bonanza of tourists. Stay in a motel and pay around 10%.

        Florida has a corporate tax of 5.5%, they aren’t immune of playing games with lobbyists but I’d bet they don’t cut a break or credit back like GA. Property taxes – don’t go there, it’s upsetting.

        But in my area when it comes to the roads, parks, schools and other public amenities we see immensely more than in “business friendly” Georgia.

        • MattMD says:

          I still don’t understand why veterans shouldn’t pay income taxes when they are residents of this state.

          Seriously, what is next, are we going to exempt all the first-responders?

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