Referendum on Georgia ballot could give tax break to timber producers

Georgia produces the most timber of any state.
Timber producers could get tax break
Timber producers could get tax break(Abby Kousouris)
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 8:08 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 8:10 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Georgia produces the most timber of any state. Now the state is letting voters decide if timber producers should be given a break on taxes for their machines similar to the tax break for agriculture producers.

On every Georgia ballot, voters can vote yes or no to this question: “Shall the Act be approved which grants a state-wide exemption from all ad valorem taxes for certain equipment used by timber producers in the production or harvest of timber?”

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The Georgia state legislature passed House Bill 997 to approve the tax break unanimously with bipartisan support.

Andres Villegas with The Georgia Forestry Association says the $39 billion industry is made up of several small business owners that employ 140,000 workers in Georgia.

“The same tractor owned by a farmer pays no ad valorem taxes whatsoever. When it’s owned by a forester, it pays ad Valorem taxes. We just believe whether you’re producing peanuts, peaches, cotton, or timber, that’s all a part of the agriculture family and we want to be treated the same,” said Villegas.

Johnathan Parker has been working in timber for 40 years for his machines, he pays between $25,000 and $35,000 a year in taxes.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but our business is so marginal,” said Parker.

The GFA estimates rising fuel costs and labor shortages will cost timber producers about $7,500 more.

“People are scared to get in this business. It’s critical for us that were not the only ones in this position. It’s difficult for small business owners,” said Parker.