The Augusta Metro Chamber actively advocated for the elimination of state sales tax imposed on the energy used in manufacturing, mining, and agriculture. However, in passing the bill, the General Assembly also provided a mechanism for local governments to reclaim lost revenue from it by imposing a new excise tax. The chamber strongly advocated against the local implementation of an excise tax and publicly urged the Augusta-Richmond County Commission to use extreme caution when deciding whether to implement the new tax, emphasizing the following points against implementation:
- Augusta Metro Chamber supported elimination of the original manufacturing tax because it resulted in higher taxes for companies but not higher production, making it unfair. Prior to its passage, only 14 states in the nation still imposed this tax, of which Georgia was one, which placed us at a business disadvantage.
- 12 of the 25 top property taxpayers in the ARC are manufacturers, representing $6.8 million.
- The Augusta Metro Chamber recommends caution on implementing a new excise tax because it unfairly penalizes one sector of the economy. Implementation will also create additional administrative costs for the city such as billing, collection and appeals to enforce the new tax.
- Advantages to waiting include allowing the tax base to continue growing organically since the economy is on the upswing and allowing sales tax revenue on Internet purchases time to grow.
Update: Excise Tax Defeated
On October 7th, 2014, facing stiff opposition from the manufacturing community, Augusta commissioners voted not to impose an energy excise tax on area manufacturers. Several commissioners stated opposition to the tax as critical to maintaining a business-friendly climate in Augusta.