- Capital: Atlanta
- Population (2012 Est.): 9,919,945
- Largest Cities (2012): Atlanta, 443,775; Columbus, 198,413; Augusta, 197,892; Savannah, 142,022
- Targeted Industries: Aerospace, Agribusiness, Defense, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Logistics, Manufacturing
- GDP (All Industry 2012): $433.5 billion*
*Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce
Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ): Allows qualified companies to defer, decrease or eliminate duties on materials imported from overseas that are used in products assembled in Georgia.
Employees’ Retirement System of Georgia Enhanced Investment Authority Act: This measure means venture capital funds can now access state pension funds, thus encouraging start-up companies to stay and grow in the state.
Entrepreneur and Small Business Loan (ESB) Guarantee Program: In partnership with the OneGeorgia Authority, the state can provide loan guarantees to spur entrepreneurial growth in specified rural communities throughout GA. The guarantee amounts can range between $35,000 and $250,000, can be used for hard assets or for start-up and working capital and require a 10% cash equity injection by the borrower. See onegeorgia.org/programs/esb.
Elimination of the Sales & Use Tax on Energy Used in Manufacturing: Not only is this sales tax exemption targeted to both new and existing companies, it also applies to all energy, not just electricity, used directly or indirectly in manufacturing.
Discretionary Elimination of Sales & Use Tax for Construction Materials: To help defray the costs of a company’s start-up operations, Georgia now has the option to offer a sales and use tax exemption on construction materials. The exemption can only be used for the expansion or location of a competitive project of regional significance.
Research & Development Tax Credits: R&D tax credits are available to any company that increases its qualified research spending. Brand new companies, existing companies embarking on R&D for the first time and established companies expanding their R&D budget are eligible. The tax credit earned is a portion of the increase in R&D spending. The credit can be used to offset up to 50% of net Georgia income tax liability, after all other credits have been applied. Any unused R&D tax credits can be carried forward for up to 10 years. In addition, excess R&D tax credits can be used against state payroll withholding. With the enhancements in statutory R&D Tax Credits, qualified companies can now take credits earned against their state payroll withholding liability, a targeted and innovative use of excess credits that incentivizes the growth of technology-based companies.
Job Tax Credit: Companies and their headquarters that are engaged in strategic industries such as manufacturing, warehousing & distribution, processing, telecommunications, broadcasting, tourism and R&D may qualify. Depending on the community’s tier, companies must create between two and 25 net new full-time jobs in the first year. Credits may also be accrued for additional jobs created in years two through five. Jobs created outside of year five may not be claimed unless a new threshold for job creation (year 1) is met. Qualified companies can claim a tax credit with a value of $750—$4,000 per job, per year, beginning with the first taxable year in which the new job is created and for the following four years the job is maintained. Increased job tax credits, equal to Tier 1 credits, are also allowed for companies that create jobs in Less Developed Census Tracts (LDCT), Opportunity Zones (OZ) or Military Zones (MZ). OZs, MZs and Georgia’s 40 least developed counties offer job tax credits to businesses of any nature. Credits may be taken against 100% of state corporate income tax liability in Tier 1 & 2 counties, or 50% of state corporate income tax liability in Tier 3 & 4 counties. Excess credits up to $3,500 per job may also be applied to payroll withholding in Tier 1 counties, LDCTs, OZs and MZs. Credits that are claimed but not used in any taxable year may be carried forward for 10 years from the close of the taxable year in which qualified jobs were established.
Statutory Job Tax Credits: In 2012, Georgia specifically identified biomedical manufacturing and alternative energy manufacturing, including solar, wind, biofuel and electric vehicle manufacturing, as qualifying industries for the Job Tax Credit, along with eight other industries.
Mega Project Tax Credit: Recently updated, this tax credit applies to qualified companies employing 1,800 new employees, and either investing a minimum of $450 million or meeting a minimum annual payroll of $150 million. The maximum number of jobs a company can claim is raised to 4,500.
Single Factor Apportionment: 2005, Georgia became the first state in the Southeast to adopt a “Single Factor Gross Receipts” apportionment formula. This formula treats a company’s gross receipts, or sales in Georgia, as the only relevant factor in determining the portion of that company’s income subject to Georgia’s 6% corporate income tax. This significantly reduces the effective rate of Georgia income taxation of companies with substantial sales to customers outside the state. In addition, GA does not use the so-called “Throw Back Rule,” which many states use to tax income from sales of goods or services to out-of-state customers if the customer’s state does not already tax that income.
Quality Jobs Tax Credit: Companies that create at least 50 jobs in a 12 month period where each job pays wages at least 110% of the county average are eligible to receive a tax credit of $2,500-$5,000 per job, per year, for up to five years, based on a scaled system. New quality jobs created within seven years can qualify for the credit. Credits may be used to offset the company’s payroll withholding once all other tax liability has been exhausted, and may be carried forward for 10 years.
Port Tax Credit Bonus: Available to taxpayers who increase imports or exports through a Georgia port by 10% over the previous or base year. Base year port traffic must be at least 75 net tons, five containers or 10 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units); if not, the percentage increase in port traffic will be calculated using 75 net tons, five containers, or 10 TEUs as the base. The port tax credit bonus can be used with either the Job or the Investment Tax Credit program, provided that the company meets the requirements for one of those programs. Port Tax Credits may be used to offset up to 50% of the company’s corporate income tax liability. The credits cannot be utilized with the Quality Jobs Tax Credit and can only be used in Opportunity Zones, Military Zones and Less Developed Census Tracts in limited cases by existing large distribution centers.
- Port Tax Credit bonus for JOB Tax Credits – an additional $1,250/job credit for taxpayers with qualified increases in shipments through a GA port. The $1,250 is added to the Job Tax Credit.
- Port Tax Credit bonus for INVESTMENT Tax Credit – increases the Investment Tax Credit to the equivalent of a Tier 1 location regardless of the tier level. The port bonus would therefore be equal to 5% of the qualified investment in expenses directly related to manufacturing or providing telecommunication services, with the credit increasing to 8% for recycling, pollution control and defense conversion.
Child Care Tax Credits: Employers who purchase or build qualified child care facilities are eligible to receive GA income tax credits equal to 100% of the cost of construction—the credit is spread over 10 years (10% each year). Unused credits from the purchase or construction of a child care facility can be carried forward three years. The child care facility must be licensed by the state. Employers who provide or sponsor child care for employees are eligible for a credit against Georgia income tax equal to 75% of the employer’s direct costs. Credits that are related to the operating cost of the facility may be carried forward five years. All child care credits can be used against 50% of the taxpayer’s income tax liability in a given year.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit Program (WOTC): Coordinated by the Georgia Dept. of Labor, it is a federal tax credit incentive that the U.S. Congress provides to private-sector businesses for hiring individuals from nine target groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment. Among others, target groups include certain TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) and food stamp recipients, and certain residents of an Empowerment Zone or Rural Renewal County. Participating companies are compensated by being able to reduce their federal income tax liability with a tax credit between $1,200 and $9,000 per qualified employee, depending on the target group. See www.doleta.gov/business/incentives/opptax/.
Inventory Tax Exemption: Effective January 1, 2011, business inventory is exempt from state property taxes (0.15 mils in 2013, 0.10 in 2014, 0.05 in 2015 0.0 in 2016 forward). Many Georgia counties also exempt from property tax up to 100% of qualified raw material, work-in-process and finished goods inventory under Georgia’s local-option “Freeport” law. In most of these counties, distribution center and warehouse inventories are exempt if the inventory is destined to be shipped out of state.
Angel Investor Tax Credit: An income tax credit for qualified investors who invest in certain qualified businesses in Georgia in calendar years 2011, 2012 and 2013. The credit is claimed two years later, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively. The credit is 35% of the investment with an individual investor cap of $50,000 per year. The aggregate annual cap for this program is $10 million. The qualified investor must get approval from the Georgia Department of Revenue before claiming the credit.
Small Business Tax Credits: Small businesses are eligible for the job tax credits, assuming all job thresholds and other eligibility criteria are met. This includes eligibility if located in OZs, MZs and Georgia’s 40 least developed counties, which offer job tax credits to businesses of any nature, including retail businesses that create two jobs.
Investment Tax Credit: Existing Georgia companies that have operated a manufacturing or telecommunications support facility in the state for at least three years, and that make a minimum $50,000 additional qualified capital investment, may claim from 1% to 5% (depending on tier status) of the new investment directly related to manufacturing or providing telecommunications services as a tax credit. Higher credits (3% to 8%, depending on tier status) are available for investments in recycling or pollution control equipment and for defense plant manufacturing conversion to a new product. Taxpayers must choose either the investment tax credit or the job tax credit. This credit may be applied against 50% of state corporate income tax liability and carried forward for 10 years.
Optional Investment Tax Credits: Can be taken in lieu of the investment tax credit. The credits range from 6% to 10% of qualified capital investment. This credit is available to taxpayers that qualify for investment tax credits, with the minimum investment ranging from $5 million to $20 million. A taxpayer can use the tax credits up to the calculated amount for a given year. The credit may be claimed up to 10 years after the year the property was first placed in service, provided the property remains in service. The optional investment tax credit is a calculated risk. Without large increases each year in income tax liability, the usable tax credit could be very small and possibly zero.
Georgia Film Tax Credit: The Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act offers an across-the-board flat tax credit of 20% based on a minimum investment of $500,000 on qualified productions in the state. An additional 10% uplift can be earned by including an imbedded animated GA logo on approved projects. Qualified expenditures include materials, services and labor. Eligible productions include feature films; television movies, pilots or series; commercials; music videos; and certain interactive projects including types of animation, special effects and video game development. The minimum expenditure threshold can be met with one or the total of multiple projects aggregated. The income tax credit may be used against GA income tax liability or the company’s GA withholding. If the production company chooses, they may make a one-time sale or transfer of the tax credit to one or more Georgia taxpayers.
Hiring Assistance: Georgia’s Department of Labor (GDOL) assists companies in recruitment by posting job notices, collecting and screening applications and/or résumés, providing interview space, scheduling interviews and hosting job fairs. GDOL will work with private employment agencies that list jobs with the state.
Quick Start Employee Training: Provides customized training for new employees in skill-based jobs at no cost to qualifying companies. The training program is given to the company for its future use. Quick Start provides training space, instructors and all needed materials related to the program, potentially saving companies millions of dollars in training costs. See georgiaquickstart.org
Retraining Tax Credit: A company’s direct investment in training can be claimed as a tax credit. It is available to all GA businesses that file a GA income tax return. 50% of the employer’s direct cost, up to $500 per full-time employee, per approved training program, may be claimed as a credit. The total amount cannot exceed $1,250 per employee per year. Training programs must be approved by the Technical College System of Georgia and must be for quality and productivity enhancements and certain software technologies. This tax credit can be used to offset up to 50% of a company’s state corporate income tax liability. Unused credits can be carried forward for 10 years. These credits can be combined with other tax credits.
University System of Georgia Economic Development: The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia created an Office of Economic Development in 1995. The System’s Economic Development staff, working with a team of economic development leaders from each campus, bridges the intellectual resources of Georgia’s 31 public college and universities to the Georgia Department of Economic Development and the state’s business community in innovative ways. Georgia businesses can connect with college-educated talent, the latest research and business and operations advice.
Centers of Innovation: Georgia’s six Centers of Innovation provide unique, technology-oriented support to businesses and start-ups in the areas of Aerospace, Agribusiness, Energy, Life Sciences & IT, Logistics and Advanced Manufacturing. Each center provides direct access to university and technical college applied research, commercialization resources, technology connections, matching grant funds, potential investor networks and key government agencies. Client companies are connected with industry-specific experts who are on the leading edge of technology and new ideas. See georgiainnovation.org.