The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) has the unenviable task of collecting and enforcing compliance with the Georgia tax code. Since Georgia’s income tax contributes the largest share of the state’s revenue, there’s a lot of money involved – around $11 billion/year from both individual and corporate tax returns.
The DOR has stated that the risk of income tax fraud has been growing significantly. Because of this risk, the DOR has implemented additional steps to combat this financial plague. However, the stepped-up effort to combat fraud lengthens the processing of returns. If you’re expecting a refund, you should anticipate that it will take more than 90 days to get your money back.
The deadline for filing of business income tax returns has been advanced from February 28 to January 31. The idea is that it narrows the window of opportunity for the crooks to file phony returns in your name before you do. The accelerated filing deadline is more burdensome for small business owners who always have many tasks competing for their time.
Also, the tax code is so complex, most people need help to file. Even then, they can’t be sure it’s been done right. In fact, the reliance on professional tax preparers opens another opportunity for fraud. Recently, a tax preparer in the south metro Atlanta area has been accused of bilking her clients and cheating the state out of possibly millions of dollars by filing phony returns. Unfortunately, it’s the taxpayers, not the preparer, who are responsible for any underpayment or penalties.
While the DOR’s efforts to combat income tax fraud are commendable, the opportunities for crooks created by the income tax are almost irresistible. Filing tax returns is a challenging process for many. It’s human nature to delay or hand off painful tasks as much as possible. Not all offering to help are legit.
People often complain about those charged with collecting taxes – the IRS, or in the case of Georgia, the DOR. But that blame is misplaced. Those departments are simply charged with enforcing the laws as passed by the legislature. As the laws become more complex, everybody’s job becomes more difficult. The more complex the task, the more opportunities for evasion. Let’s stop providing opportunity for the criminals who are eager to steal your money and unburden the DOR of a frustrating and expensive battle to combat them. Get rid of Georgia’s income tax entirely.
It’s in the hands of your legislators. Support the Georgians for Fair Taxation effort by contacting your elected officials and let them know you want to get rid of the Georgia state income tax. You can also get more information here at gafairtax.org.