Georgia Legislature

A Georgia State Trooper (right) walks the empty hallways of the Georgia State Capitol building during the 29th day of the Georgia Legislative session, Friday, March 13, 2020, in Atlanta. Out of caution and in relation to the coronavirus, the Georgia General Assembly suspended the legislative session until further notice. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia businesses making personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, gowns and hand sanitizer will be eligible for a new tax credit under legislation that passed the General Assembly Friday.

The credit was touted by Gov. Brian Kemp as a show of support for businesses that have switched their operations over to producing important protective supplies since March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

House Bill 846 also includes changes to an existing state tax-credit program benefitting job creators that will let companies use their pre-coronavirus employment numbers to qualify for the credit.

Kemp, along with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, called the two tax-credit measures critical to bolstering businesses that have been hit hard by the virus-prompted economic slowdown.

“This legislative package will shore up those efforts, ensuring that those in the Georgia businesses who have adapted to meet these challenges head on know that we have their back,” Kemp said in a statement.

The Georgia House passed the bill Friday 110-58, a day after it cleared the state Senate 46-3. The bill now needs the governor’s signature, which he has signaled he will give.

Under the bill, businesses manufacturing items in Georgia used to shield people from contracting the virus would be eligible for an additional $1,250 tax credit per job. Those supplies include gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, helmets, goggles and respirators.

The credit looks to be a boon for more than 250 businesses in Georgia that flipped the switch on their operations to churn out protective gear, including clothing manufacturers and breweries. It would apply to jobs created in those qualified companies through 2024.

Companies that qualify for the state’s Quality Job Tax Credit would also be able to count the number of employees they had in 2019 toward claiming their credit for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.

The change aims to help businesses in underdeveloped areas and for certain industries like manufacturing, warehousing, telecommunications and research that have lost employees amid the pandemic.

“We’re in new times, the COVID era,” Rep. Bert Reeves, R-Marietta, said on the House floor in presenting the bill Friday. “This is something we can do to try to help our businesses rebound.”

Reeves said the tax credits will cost the state an estimated $4.3 million to $13.1 million per year in lost tax revenue.

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