The recommendations of special commission on tax reform, now under consideration by the House of Representatives in the form of HB 385, contain many radical changes to Georgia’s tax structure. These include imposing new sales taxes on groceries, sales of automobiles from one individual to another and 50 personal services not currently taxed, ranging from haircuts to dry cleaning to oil changes.
If this legislation is enacted in its current form, the state of Georgia would even begin collecting sales tax on – believe it or not – Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn sales. Yes, HB 385 includes a provision that would eliminate the current sales tax exemption on nonprofit fundraisers in our state, specifically including these popular, time-honored traditions of Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.
As someone who has served for many years as a Scout leader with the Atlanta Area Council and Executive Board member of the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America, I can attest that requiring our Scouts to collect sales tax is neither feasible nor fair. According to Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta CEO Marilyn W. Midyette, these would be some of the consequences of this proposal:
- A portion of the funds earned by our Scouts for their many leadership, camping and community service programs would be diverted to pay sales tax.
- Hundreds of children especially in rural or financially distressed areas will not be able to participate in Scouting due to a reduction of services resulting from these sales taxes.
- Camps are likely to be stressed due to reduced funding.
- The administrative burden placed on councils to remit payment of sales taxes to taxing authorities would divert limited financial resources away from program support.
It is no exaggeration to say the overall economic impact of this new tax on Georgia’s Scouting councils would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, thus denying programs for many young people.
I will be working with my House colleagues, hopefully in a bipartisan effort, to protect Scouting activities from the implementation of any new sales tax. Scouting is too valuable a program for our youth and our communities for state government to be imposing such a hardship.
I truly do not believe singling out Girl Scout cookies and Boy Scout popcorn for this new sales tax was what the legislative majority had in mind when it created the special tax reform commission. Hopefully, common sense will prevail and HB 385 will be reshaped to avoid harming the good work of our nonprofit organizations, including the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America.
Rep. Pedro “Pete” Marin (D-Duluth) represents District 96 in the Georgia House of Representatives. Contact him at 404-656-0314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.