State lawmaker: Wire-transfer levy isn’t aimed at Hispanics, and it’s not a tax. It’s a fee

State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-Brunswick, called late Wednesday to offer some details of his bill – not yet filed – that would put a new levy on wire transfers out-of-state.

His two main points: The legislation is not aimed at the Hispanic community. And though he slipped in his own remarks, he prefers the term “fee” over “tax.”

The bill won’t be dropped until next week, so it lacks a number, and we don’t have its exact language – though Jones said it runs just slightly over two pages.

The Brunswick lawmaker, who owns a pair of lube-and-car wash facilities, said his measure would apply to any out-of-state transaction, not just cash sent home to Mexico or any other foreign country.

The bill would mandate a $10 levy on cash-o-grams of $499 and under, and a 2 percent tax on those $500 and over. Those who pay the tax could seek reimbursement each year when they file their state income tax.

Businesses and corporations would be exempted.

Oklahoma has had similar legislation for six years, Jones said. “Very few people file for reimbursements,” he said. “That says to me that most of these transactions are from people doing something illegal.”

To Jones, that means gambling, drug-dealing and workers who are paid in cash – an underground economy that is avoiding banks and other state-regulated entities.

“We’re not targeting the Hispanic community at all,” he said. “We’re targeting those who are trying to hide the cash transactions.”

Although, presumably, many of those workers paid in cash could be illegal immigrants. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump suggested that he might threaten to stop remittances in order to force Mexico to pay for a wall along its border with the United States. From the Washington Post:

The Bank of Mexico tracks how much the country receives in remittances on a monthly basis. In 2015, Mexico took in nearly $25 billion in total, including from countries besides the United States. But most of it was from the United States. (According to Pew Research, 98 percent of the remittances received in 2012 were from the U.S.)

Jones said he’s met with Western Union, Wal-Mart, and other businesses involved in wire transfers. “They don’t want to be singled out as the only people that we are subjecting to the tax,” Jones said.

Generally speaking, the state allows retailers a 3 percent cut of taxes they collect, to cover their expenses. To encourage buy-in, Jones’ legislation would allow wire-transfer operations a 5 percent cut.

In an earlier post, we noted that Jones pending legislation could be called one of the first Georgia measures of the new Trump era. After our conversation, Jones sent a text that included this:

“It is wrong, in my humble opinion, to call it a tax. It is a fee. And this was started way pre-Trump.”

***

We’ve told you about state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, and his proposed legislation aimed at female Muslim garb that covers the face. Spencer was on WGAU (1340AM) this morning with morning host Tim Bryant. Here’s the sound:

 

And below is a compacted transcript. Bryant begins by noting that, while Spencer’s legislation would bar applicants from shielding their faces while posing for drivers license photos, that is already a regulation imposed by the state Department of Driver Services :

Bryant: What problem are you trying to solve?

 

Spencer: What you’re citing is a regulation by the department. Regulations do have the force of law, but they are not law, and they can be changed easily….

 

Bryant: Are you aware of any drivers licenses in Georgia issued with a face concealed?

 

Spencer: I’m not aware of that in particular, but I think with the security threats to our country, to our national security, I think states need to start looking at things like this…

 

Bryant: If I understand your statute or your legislation literally…it means while I’m walking down a sidewalk, for crying out loud – if my religion dictates that I wear a burqa, your law would run counter to that.

 

Spencer: The anti-masking statute has been interpreted – only when that will become a criminal act is when there is intent to incite violence. That’s how the court interprets these anti-masking statutes.

 

Bryant: What are you hearing in terms of any potential push-back? Is anybody supporting you on this?

 

Spencer: One of the reasons for …a pre-file is to test the waters. So that’s one of the reasons you pre-file. …One of the reasons is to test that water before you get in that session, to see how people react.

***

It taken four years, but Donald Trump’s Twitter claim that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese has finally drawn a response from the People’s Republic. From the Washington Post:

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin repudiated Trump’s accusation on Wednesday, telling reporters at United Nations talks in Marrakesh, Morocco, that U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush started the global warming conversation by supporting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change during the late 1980s, according to Bloomberg News.

***

Donald Trump’s office has confirmed what was made obvious on Wednesday when U.S. Rep. Tom Price visited Trump Tower: The Roswell Republican met the president-elect to discuss a potential Cabinet job, potentially as head of the Health and Human Services department. It was hard to deny this AP shot:

 

Rep. Tom Price at Trump Tower. AP Photo.

And so we have this:

***

U.S. Rep. John Lewis on Wednesday won the National Book Award for the third installment of his graphic novel about his role in the civil rights movement, “March.”. Here’s the AP’s dispatch from the awards dinner in Manhattan: 

No speaker moved the crowd more than Lewis, who collaborated with Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell on a trilogy of illustrated works titled “March.” Cited Wednesday for the finale, “March: Book Three,” the 76-year-old Lewis became tearful as he remembered a librarian in his native Alabama who refused to let him borrow books because of his skin color. He then remembered an elementary school teacher who told him “Read, my child, read!”

“And I tried to read everything,” he said.

Lewis’ win marked two rarities for the National Book Awards, now in their 67th year: a prize for a graphic novel and for a member of Congress. In 2004, the government-drafted “9-11 Commission Report” was a nonfiction finalist.

***

The feud between Georgia GOP political director Brad Hughes and House Speaker David Ralston’s top aide has worsened. We told you last week about the tirade Spiro Amburn unleashed at Hughes at the Georgia GOP victory party over what Hughes called a misunderstanding.

Now comes this post from state Rep. John Pezold, R-Columbus:

Ralston spokesman Kaleb McMichen referenced a part of the parking policy that restricts House lawmakers from letting an “unauthorized” person use a parking space or permit.

“The Speaker’s Office has many responsibilities including ensuring the safety and security of House members and staff with the assistance of the Department of Public Safety,” McMichen said. “On Monday, a suspicious vehicle was reported to our office and we, in turn, notified DPS personnel.  While no member has contacted our office on this matter, we are happy to review parking policies or answer questions for members.”

State Rep. Kevin Cooke, the lawmaker with Hughes, sent over this statement:

I, an elected member of the General Assembly from the 18th House District of Georgia, instructed Brad Hughes to display my permit and park in my place since I was driving both of us to a legislative event. His vehicle was neither unauthorized nor suspicious since a valid parking tag was clearly displayed in the windshield. For all intents and purposes, the vehicle parked there was mine for the purpose of legislative business. It is no different than any other member who, at some point, has driven a rental car or the automobile of a spouse, child or friend to the Capitol and parked in the deck. Further, there are 236 members of the General Assembly. It is highly doubtful that anyone has committed every member and his or her most frequently driven automobile to memory. Considering there was a valid parking permit in the vehicle, one could be puzzled how it could be labeled and reported suspicious, particularly considering my campaign bumper sticker (with my name clearly displayed) is on the back window.

 

Let’s call this what it is- another example of an unelected staff member from the Speaker’s office embarrassing the caucus by causing issues for elected officials and unelected Georgians alike. Obviously it’s become a common occurrence for these people to lash out at members of the State House, members of the State Senate and Party leadership. It’s time for a change!”

Reader Comments 0

73 comments
Thomas R. McFarland
Thomas R. McFarland

It's a tax, no matter how they want to label it. The state would not be doing anything to enable the transfer of funds. A fee, such as a fee for a fishing license, helps pay to support the activity. The only activity the State of Georgia would be involved in would be raking off some of the money for itself.

Earl Merck
Earl Merck

Money going to Mexico should have a 50 percent fee to help build a wall since thy don't pay tax anyway

Turner Rentz
Turner Rentz

This is nonsense. The tax is designed to punish people sending money home. Why? What part of that tax is needed, to better financial infrastructure? Sorry kids, but if you want conservatism ... go to the progressives. The republicans are into sex offenders and raising taxes and huge, liberal, big giant construction projects like building a giant 2,000 mile wall that we don't even need.

Andy Young
Andy Young

What is not widely understood: Without funds sent back to Mexico, that country would devolve into a totally lawless narco-state.

Emily Judd
Emily Judd

I call BS on his "not aimed at Hispanics"

Marybeth Lang Magallanes
Marybeth Lang Magallanes

Another day, another reason to be ashamed to be living in Georgia. No defense. This is clearly aimed to discriminate.

Jay Smallwood
Jay Smallwood

The shitheel liberals would rather us be taxed..

Rocky Buldo
Rocky Buldo

Your "Pro commerce - Anti Tax - Less Gubmint" at work.

Tom Riley
Tom Riley

If they are paying taxes here, no fee. No taxes then apply the fee. Or apply the fee and when they send in their tax returns then refund the fee.

David T Phagan
David T Phagan

Okay before you left this get all upset about this I understand it cost $0.00 to send $500 to Mexico from Macon Georgia. But to send $500 to Beverly Hills California or anywhere else in the United States cost $50. You have illegal aliens earning money in the United States not paying tax on it not reinvesting it in the United States shipping it straight to Mexico. Believe me it's completely Fair. Don't believe me look at the next two comments I'm gonna make

Tim Land
Tim Land

We already have laws, though seldom enforced, on how much cash can be carried out of the country by a person. It certainly makes sense to tax other cash transfers, especially by non tax payers. That is a part of sound economics, and basically akin to taxing imports.

John Guzzardo
John Guzzardo

Listen carefully: any "fee" charged by government IS A TAX! That's Florida-style double speak!

John Edwards
John Edwards

More govt b.s. stealing our money. Mostly from the poor.

Robin Toovey Mosele
Robin Toovey Mosele

Not sure I'm happy about this, I can say that China scammed my elderly mom to send money by wire. They were watching her through her camera on computer. Maybe if the fee was enough she would of thought twice... That being said, state to state, this is America we shouldn't have to pay to send money in the country

Kelley Storey
Kelley Storey

I find it odd this comes up just after Trump said this would be a way to pay for the wall. Wonder if this will exclude direct deposit to debit cards?

Donna Maxwell
Donna Maxwell

It should be done on the federal level, and use the proceeds to build the wall!

Janet Pratt French
Janet Pratt French

Do u really believe Trump is going to build a wall. Just one of his many lies.

JoAnn Fogleman
JoAnn Fogleman

you can call it a Fee but if the state can recover money to recover taxes lost I'm all for it. We have families to support and we don't get a free ride to our bank.

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

So I should pay a fee to send money to my mother in Missouri? How does that help anyone but the government?

JoAnn Fogleman
JoAnn Fogleman

If you do banking in Ga. you send it through your bank free. If you don't have a checking you're paying a fee when you buy the money order. I might be telling you wrong. I've hired cr

JF Williams
JF Williams

There are a lot of unbanked American citizens out there. Mostly minorities. But I suppose they don't count, huh...

JoAnn Fogleman
JoAnn Fogleman

The fee for service rendered. The state can use the money collected to off set some of the under the table loss of revenue for taxes not paid to the state. Everyone knows you have to pay taxes to state and federal That's law. This money has been going back to countries tax free. That's not right to American tax payers.

Jay Smallwood
Jay Smallwood

Got a better idea....lower taxes on everybody...the the taxpayers wont be getti g screwed so much..

CharlesThomas Duke
CharlesThomas Duke

I believe it to be both,they say it's a fee but it's much more than that

Michael Barnes
Michael Barnes

Call it a "shared responsibility" fee and leftists will support it. Worked before.

JF Williams
JF Williams

That's cool. So when will we hold multi-billion dollar Corporations like General Electric to the same standards?

Tom Haney
Tom Haney

Stop the millions upon millions of U.S. dollars being sent south of the border.

JF Williams
JF Williams

How about stopping the billions of U.S. dollars going overseas via tax shelters?

Tom Haney
Tom Haney

Yeh, JF Williams, how about that?

Edith Stanley
Edith Stanley

Jeff Jones -- I suggest you go back to school and learn the difference between what is a "tax" and what is a "fee."

Ralph Johnson
Ralph Johnson

I'm glad that I don't have a bank account in Georgia see.

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

It's another Big Government money grab and a total waste of taxpayer money to pursue this.

Jen Minor
Jen Minor

BREAKING NEWS- A drilling mud backup occurred on a pipeline going under a river in GA. This was only brought to awareness because someone was flying over & noticed it. Please watch and share. https://vimeo.com/191857377

Stephen Sorrels
Stephen Sorrels

"Mexico received more than $24.4 billion in remittances in 2014 from immigrants living in the United States, which makes up about two percent of the Mexican GDP, according to World Bank data." This kind of money leaving America... Hurts America.

Stephen Sorrels
Stephen Sorrels

That's a two-way street... maybe the immigrants will be happy to help support Georgia by paying this fee / tax... because of their Christian values and gratitude.

Amber Campbell
Amber Campbell

And the money corporations get to hide all over the globe, when do we collect those fees ?

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

That works out to be $4.33 per US citizen per year. I think our Christian values should be able to accommodate $4.33 being sent to take of people. If you disagree I will be glad to send the $4.33 myself.

Stephen Sorrels
Stephen Sorrels

James is right... Google "brain drain".... the very poorest people don't come to America... It's the middle class upper class and the entrepreneurs... America taking in the very best of a countries people actually hurts the home country.... America should help these people in there country.. Not bring them here

Chad Campbell
Chad Campbell

How exactly does it hurt America? Compared to the rich and their offshore bank accounts? Would you have the same reaction if Obama did this?

James Devere
James Devere

They're welcome to carry the money back to their home countries,themselves. That way,they can stay and help their country's economy and quit draining ours.

Stephen Sorrels
Stephen Sorrels

If that money was spent in America... It would help small and large businesses... 24 billion dollars would be a lot of toasters, microwaves, cars, burgers exedra... Offshore bank accounts are not good... they avoid taxes... funny you should say that though... Cuz basically this 24 billion dollars being sent out of America is basically a offshore bank account.... no one knows what the money is being used for or if it's being saved. Obama should have done this.

Greg P Bates
Greg P Bates

Stephen, you do know that Obama deported more illegal immigrants than Bush, don't you?

Stephen Sorrels
Stephen Sorrels

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/ice-releases-19723-criminal-illegals-208-convicted-of-murder-900-of-sex-crimes/article/2589785 Yes he has... but the fact remains that there are millions of illegal immigrants in America... our department of justice actually releases criminal illegal immigrants back into America... releasing murderers and rapists back into America is inexcusable.... If you break a law then you should be held accountable... Obama has issued directives that Force our immigration officers to ignore our current immigration laws.

Janet Pratt French
Janet Pratt French

James Devere you may find yourself on the wrong side of the border one day. Which is very possible considering what we have coming in our government!