Georgia has the Tenth Lowest State and Local Tax Burden in the Nation for FY 2016

Apr 30, 2018

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In Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, Georgia collected $37.8 billion in state and local taxes—or $3,663 for every man, woman, and child. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average Georgia taxpayer can afford this level of taxation?


To better answer this question, this analysis will calculate Georgia’s tax burden relative to the private sector. Ultimately, it is the private sector that creates new wealth and income. A high tax burden means a state is hobbling its private sector relative to other states and reducing their long-run economic growth potential.



Click here to view tax burden data by state, type of tax, and for years 1950 to 2016


Fortunately for taxpayers, as shown in Chart 1, Georgia’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by private sector personal income) was the tenth lowest in the nation for FY 2016 at 12.6 percent—or -12 percent below the national average of 14.3 percent.


Chart 1 Georgia State and Local Tax Burden FY 2016.jpg


#Georgia state and local #taxburden in FY 2016 was the 10th lowest in the nation at 12.6%— -12% below US average of 14.3% @keypolicydata #GApol #GAleg #GAsenate #GAgov #PolicyData (click to tweet)


As shown in Chart 2, Georgia’s tax burden has increased over time by 66 percent to 12.6 percent in FY 2016 from 7.6 percent in FY 1950.


Chart 2 Georgia State and Local Tax Burden by Type of Tax FY 1950 to 2016.JPG


#Georgia state and local #taxburden has increased 66% between FY 1950 (7.6%) to 2016 (12.6%) @keypolicydata #GApol #GAleg #GAsenate #GAgov #PolicyData (click to tweet)


Click here to view tax burden data by state, type of tax, and for years 1950 to 2016



To put Georgia’s tax burden into perspective, let’s compare it to size of major industries in the state (as a percent of private sector income). As shown in Chart 3, Georgia’s 12.6 percent tax burden is greater than these combined industries: manufacturing (9.8 percent), utilities (0.9 percent), and arts, entertainment, and recreation (0.7 percent).


Chart 3 Georgia State and Local Tax Burden vs. Major Industry FY 2016.JPG


#Georgia state and local #taxburden > combined industries: manufacturing, utilities, and arts/entertainment @keypolicydata #GApol #GAleg #GAsenate #GAgov #PolicyData (click to tweet)


Georgian’s lower than average state and local tax burden is driven by a low corporate income tax burden (0.3 percent, 17th lowest), and all other taxes burden (1.4 percent, 7th lowest).


Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in Georgia—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.


The 20 Georgia counties with the highest local government tax burden include:


  • Taliaferro County, GA (18.9 percent)
  • Hancock County, GA (17.9 percent)
  • Heard County, GA (14.9 percent)
  • Randolph County, GA (13.8 percent)
  • Burke County, GA (12.3 percent)
  • Richmond County, GA (12.3 percent)
  • Camden County, GA (12.0 percent)
  • Wilkinson County, GA (11.9 percent)
  • Rabun County, GA (11.8 percent)
  • Quitman County, GA (11.5 percent)
  • Wilkes County, GA (11.4 percent)
  • Clarke County, GA (11.4 percent)
  • Washington County, GA (10.7 percent)
  • Charlton County, GA (10.2 percent)
  • Wheeler County, GA (10.2 percent)
  • Clayton County, GA (10.1 percent)
  • Putnam County, GA (10.1 percent)
  • Crisp County, GA (10.0 percent)
  • Tift County, GA (10.0 percent)
  • Sumter County, GA (10.0 percent)


The 20 Georgia counties with the lowest local government tax burden include:


  • Whitfield County, GA (4.5 percent)
  • Barrow County, GA (4.5 percent)
  • Oglethorpe County, GA (4.5 percent)
  • Walker County, GA (4.4 percent)
  • Coweta County, GA (4.3 percent)
  • Long County, GA (4.3 percent)
  • Fayette County, GA (4.2 percent)
  • Bryan County, GA (4.2 percent)
  • Crawford County, GA (4.2 percent)
  • Pike County, GA (4.2 percent)
  • Lee County, GA (4.1 percent)
  • Harris County, GA (4.0 percent)
  • Cobb County, GA (3.9 percent)
  • Paulding County, GA (3.9 percent)
  • Columbia County, GA (3.4 percent)
  • Cherokee County, GA (3.4 percent)
  • Oconee County, GA (3.3 percent)
  • Forsyth County, GA (3.1 percent)
  • Chattahoochee County, GA (-0.3 percent, see note)
  • Liberty County, GA (-38.1 percent, see note)


Chart 4 Georgia Local Tax Burden by County FY 2016.JPG


Note: The tax burdens for counties with large military bases, such as Chattahoochee and Liberty Counties, are inflated because, by definition, military compensation is excluded from the denominator as it does not constitute private sector activity.


Additionally, military activity often physically crowds-out the private sector pushing it out into surrounding areas. While a significant portion of surrounding private sector activity is due to the presence of the base, it is counted in the counties where the business is physically located. Thus, the tax burden, as a percent of private sector personal income, is overstated in counties with military bases and understated in surrounding counties.


Click here to view tax burden data by state, type of tax, and for years 1950 to 2016


Finally, don’t forget to watch our exclusive time-lapse video of state and local tax burdens over the last 66 years! See if your state has been above or below the national average?





Category: Tax Burdens

J. Scott Moody

Scott has nearly 20 years of experience as a public policy economist. He is the author, co-author and editor of over 180 studies and books. His professional experience also includes positions at the American Conservative Union Foundation, Granite Institute, Federalism In Action, Maine Heritage Policy Center, Tax Foundation, and Heritage Foundation.

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