The Republican-controlled Georgia House of Representatives passed a $1 billion state income tax cut Wednesday over objections from Democrats that most benefits would go to upper-income taxpayers while some Georgians would pay more.

The bill, which passed 115-52 and now moves to the state Senate, would reduce Georgia’s income tax rate from 5.75% to 5.25%.

Rep. Shaw Blackmon.

While doing away with the standard deduction, the legislation would increase the standard exemption from the current $2,700 to $12,000 for single filers and from $7,400 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.

“A family of four will not pay one penny of state income tax on their first $30,000 of income,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Shaw Blackmon, the bill’s chief sponsor, told House lawmakers during a brief debate.

Blackmon, R-Bonaire, said that same family of four with an annual income of $50,000 would receive a tax cut of more than $400.

“[This] will make us more competitive for wage earners at every income level,” he said.

But Rep. Matthew Wilson, D-Brookhaven, cited an analysis by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute that the bill would raise taxes on about 10% of taxpayers, while $620 million of the $1 billion tax cut would benefit only the top 20% of taxpayers.

Rep. Matthew Wilson.

“We are effectively raising taxes on the working poor,” he said.

Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, said the legislation’s sponsors haven’t explained what state services would have to be cut for the state to afford doing away with $1 billion in tax revenue.

“We’re going to have to cut from education, health care … mental health,” she said.

Wilson accused Republican leaders of playing politics with the issue by shoving the bill through the House just one week after introducing it.

“This bill has been rushed through in an election year because it looks good on a [campaign] mailer,” he said. “But it’s not good policy.”

The legislation would take effect during the 2024 tax year.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams is the Bureau Chief of Capitol Beat News Service.