The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

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January 15, 2014

State GOP promises fast start on tax bills

(Continued)

The better justification, he said, is simply to help parents who decide to adopt. "This process is stepping out on a limb financially for a young couple," he said.

The small-business tax bill comes from the National Federation of Independent Business. Most businesses pay ahead on sales taxes collected from customers based on their estimated receipts. Current law requires the estimated payments from any business that has an average $1,000 in monthly sales tax receipts over the previous year.

House Bill 151 from Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, would raise the threshold to $2,500. That would allow about 4,000 businesses to bypass the estimated payments, instead waiting to pay based on actual receipts.

The one-time interruption of the monthly payments would cost $4.5 million to the education budget, according to legislative fiscal analysts. But Rosemary Elebash, NFIB's lobbyist, noted that the change would not cost the state anything long-term, and she argued it's more important to give small business operations more certainty. As it is, she said, they're required to float the state money and get no interest payments back when they overpay.

"This is a cash flow issue," she said.

Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, said she understood the appeal of both tax bills. But she also noted the immediate $7 million hit the state education budget would take. "We have a fiduciary responsibility to look at both sides of the ledger," she said.

The House Judiciary Committee is expected Wednesday afternoon to pass a measure that would create an independent body to oversee taxpayer disputes. Current law allows the state Department of Revenue to appoint administrative judges to settle disagreements. Republicans argue that allows the agency too much power over its own disputes with taxpayers.

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