GA House approves continued tax break for Delta - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

GA House approves longer tax break for Delta

By Mackenzie Patterson - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Big breaks might still be in store for Delta Air Lines.  Since 2005, the Atlanta based company has not had to pay state sales taxes on jet fuel.  This week, amid cuts to funding for things like the HOPE scholarship and hikes in insurance rates for state workers, the Georgia House passed a bill continuing the tax break for Delta.

Georgia House Bill 322 gives the airline a break on sales tax for jet fuel calling for a $20 million break for 2012 and $10 million exemption for the following year.  This is not new to Delta though.  The company's first break was in 2005.  But, opponents said things looked a little different then.  That year, the Atlanta Journal Constitution said the airline suffered a $5 billion loss.  But, last year, the company had more than $1 billion in profits.

Georgia House Representative Richard Smith, R-Columbus, voted in favor of the bill.  He said even with the profit change, there is still an economic investment for the state.

"Money they save they will invest into other aspects of their business.  So in a round-about way, you may still get back that sales tax because every time they go buy something they pay sales tax on it," said Smith.

Supporters, like Smith, believe the bill is important to keeping Delta and all its 27,000 workers calling Georgia home.

"They can pick up their headquarters and move their headquarters anywhere they want to in the United States, and those other states would welcome them there," said Smith.

However, the company's roots are buried deep here.

Delta started in Macon in the early 1920s as a crop dusting business and moved to Atlanta in 1941.

According to the AJC opponents to the bill said this and Delta's recent contract with Hartsfield-Jackson Airport would keep the airlines in the state even without the tax breaks, but supporters like Smith say the argument can go both ways.

Smith explained Kia and NCR had similar tax breaks as incentive to move headquarters to Georgia.  he says legislators are working on the Capitol to eliminate sales tax exemptions, like Delta's, by 2014.

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