Gov. Nathan Deal says he still isn't sure how lawmakers might make up some $140 million in lost revenue if they follow through on a proposal to eliminate a state sales tax on energy use for manufacturers.
"That's not an easy answer," the governor said. "I don't think there is much appetite in this election year, quite honestly, to pass anything that appears to be a tax increase."
But one possibility, he says, is collecting sales tax on e-commerce in Georgia.
The governor, meeting Thursday morning with members of the Georgia Press Association, said the idea of collecting sales tax on e-commerce has not yet been "fully vetted," but other states, including Indiana, are seeking to collect.
Deal's budget proposal doesn't include a suggestion for lawmakers to seek out sales tax collections on Internet purchases. And though he has repeatedly stated a desire to eliminate the tax to make the state more attractive to manufacturing, he didn't account for the revenue loss it would cause in his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins in July.
While lawmakers might be reluctant to create new taxes this year, they might be more willing to consider collecting a sales tax on e-commerce to make up the difference as "brick-and-mortar" stores in the state complain of the disadvantage between them and Web-based retailers, Deal said.
"It is something that has been talked about in the abstract for a long time," Deal said. "Everybody has sort of been waiting on Congress to act on that as well, to say ‘it's OK for states to do this.'"
Still, Deal is not placing any bets that lawmakers might get aggressive on the subject this year.
"It very well could be one that we might see some action on, but I would not predict one way or the other at this point."