Incentives and Financial Assistance
Tax Credits and Exemptions
The state of Georgia offers several tax credit programs to both new and existing businesses and industries located within the state. Based within a job tax credit tier rating system, tiers are used to rate the economic well-being of a county. With four tiers, Tier 4 indicates counties that are the most developed; whereas, Tier 1 indicates the least developed counties. Tier 1 counties also offer the highest tax credits.
- Tier 1: Bulloch and Screven
- Tier 2: Liberty, Long and McIntosh
- Tier 3: Camden, Chatham, and Glynn
- Tier 4: Bryan and Effingham
2015 Job Tax Credit Tiers for Coastal Georgia Counties:
Marine Port Terminals, Inc. handles break-bulk, has 15 acres of open space, 453,000 square feet of covered storage, and rail service. The Marine Port Terminals’ 145-acre facility handles a diverse mix of break-bulk and bulk commodities. It is managed by a private company.
Agri-bulk Facility is a secured, fenced facility owned and operated by the Georgia Ports Authority. Colonel’s Island Terminal is among the largest deep-water agri-bulk operations in the U.S. South Atlantic. Offering a turnkey service for U.S. Midwest and Southeastern agribusiness, the facility features a dedicated agri-bulk berth and is capable of accommodating a diverse group of agri-product in combined flat and vertical storage.
Ports and Channel Maintenance
Shipping channels and harbors serving the "world-class" ports in Savannah and Brunswick require extensive dredging in order to maintain the depths required to accommodate ocean-going vessels. The millions of cubic yards of material removed in these operations are placed in "spoil areas" approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Conditions for carrying out dredge operations and for disposing of dredge material are permitted and monitored by the regulatory branch of the Corps.
Over the years, dredging and depositing discarded dredge material have raised concerns over various environmental consequences. Other concerns include the effects of significantly deepened channels on conditions in adjacent shore and water-bottom areas, rates of erosion, and changes in the hydraulics of water movement created by dredging. In any case, dredging for harbor and channel maintenance is essential to ensuring the economic benefits of coastal ports.
Government and Taxes
- Corporate Tax: 6%
- State Sales Tax: 4%
- Local Sales Tax: 2-3%
- Property Tax: Varies by County
The following information provides a brief outline of the various tax incentive programs offered by the state of Georgia, as identified by the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD).
State of Georgia Business Development Incentives:1
Job Tax Credits
Job tax credits are made available to a business or its headquarters engaged in the following seven strategic industries—manufacturing, including but not limited to, manufacturing alternative energy products for use in solar, wind, battery, bioenergy, biofuel, and electric vehicle enterprises, warehousing & distribution, processing, telecommunications, broadcasting, tourism, research and development industries, biomedical manufacturing, and services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Job tax credits range from $4,000 for Tier 1 counties to $1,250 for Tier 4 counties; per job each year for five years. For each job tax tier, there are a minimum number of jobs required to claim the tax credit. For more information, see Georgia Job Credit.
Quality Jobs Tax Credit: awards for companies creating at least 50 jobs in a 12-month period- at wages that are at least 10 percent higher than the county average- qualify for a tax credit of $2,500 to $5,000 per job.
In addition, Georgia offers a Port Job Tax Credit Bonus at $1,250 per job for businesses with large increases in shipments out of a Georgia port. The port job tax credit bonus is added to the job tax credits described above. For more information, see Georgia Port Job Tax Credits.
Work Opportunity Tax Credit: awards for companies in Georgia that hire individuals who have faced barriers to employment and ranges from $1,200 to $9,000 per hire. For more information, see Georgia Employment Tax Credits.
Mega Project Tax Credit: Businesses that employ at least 1,800 “net new” employees and have either a minimum annual payroll of $150 million or make a minimum of $450 million investment in Georgia qualify for the mega project tax credit. For more information, see Georgia Mega Project Tax Credits.2
Investment Tax Credits
Investment tax credits qualified capital investment range from 8 percent (8%) for Tier 1 counties to 1 percent (1%) for Tier 4 counties.
Although the exact tax credits are dependent upon the tier level of the county where the investment occurs, investment tax credits are available to existing Manufacturing or Telecommunications firms that have operated a facility in Georgia for three years prior to the investment; and which invests $50,000 or more.
Higher level credits are available to businesses with investments in recycled equipment, pollution control equipment, and for the conversion of a defense plant to the manufacturing of a new product—at a rate ranging from 8 percent (8%) for Tier 1 communities to three percent (3%) for Tier 4 communities. These credit options are available only to Manufacturing firms.
The state of Georgia also offers a Port Investment Bonus to businesses with large increases of shipments into or out of a Georgia port. The port bonus increases the investment tax credit to 5 percent (5%), regardless of the county tier level. The five percent bonus is in lieu of the investment tax credit described above. For more information, see Georgia Investment Tax Credit.
Over the years, dredging and depositing discarded dredge material have raised concerns over various environmental consequences. Other concerns include the effects of significantly deepened channels on conditions in adjacent shore and water-bottom areas, rates of erosion, and changes in the hydraulics of water movement created by dredging. In any case, dredging for harbor and channel maintenance is essential to ensuring the economic benefits of coastal ports.3
Optional Investment Tax Credits
The optional investment tax credit is based on how much is invested, where the investment is made, and how the investment will alter the company’s tax liability. The intent is to reward companies for making major investments in the State of Georgia. Ranging from 10 percent (10%) for Tier 1 counties and 6 percent (6%) for Tier 3 or 4 counties of qualified capital investment, the optional investment tax credit is available to all businesses that qualify for investment tax credits.
The requirements remain the same as investment tax credits; however, the minimum investment ranges from $5 to $20 million. The optional tax credit equals 90 percent (90%) of the difference between; (1) the taxpayer’s Georgia income tax liability for the current year; and (2) the taxpayer’s base tax liability.
As with both the optional tax credit and the job tax credit, the credit can be claimed up to 10 years following the year the property was first placed in service provided the property remains in service. For more information, see Georgia Optional Investment Tax Credit.4
Research and Development Tax Credit
The research and development (R&D) tax credit is available for up to 10 percent (10%) of the additional (R&D) expense over an identified base amount. The base amount is computed utilizing the previous three (3) years’ taxable income and related research expenses.
The R&D base is the businesses’ Georgia taxable net income in the current year, multiplied by either; (a) the average of the ratios of its qualified research expense to taxable net income for the preceding three (3) taxable years; or (b) 30 percent (30%), whichever is less. For more information, see Georgia Research & Development Tax Credits.5
Retraining Tax Credit
The retraining tax credit is available to all businesses that file a Georgia income tax return. Retraining programs must be for new equipment and/or new technologies.
The retraining tax credit is one-half of the employer’s approved direct retraining cost, up to $500 per employee per training program with an annual maximum of $1,250 per employee. Amounts exceeded within a calendar year, can be carried over for tax credit purposes for up to 10 years and can be combined with other tax credit programs. Retraining programs must be approved by the Technical College System of Georgia before credits can be applied for by the business. Retraining tax credits can be used to reduce up to 50 percent (50%) of the taxpayer’s income tax liability in a given year in order to reduce or eliminate State of Georgia income tax liability. For more information, see Georgia Retraining Tax Credit.6
Film, Television and Digital Entertainment Tax Credit
Film and television companies may receive a tax credit of up to 30 percent of money spent on production and post-production in Georgia, either in a single production or on multiple projects. For the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, the minimum spending amount is $500,000 and can provide an additional 20 percent tax credit. Additionally, any project that includes the promotional logo provided by the state, will receive an additional 10 percent. Companies may also transfer or sell tax credits, in the event that there is little or no State of Georgia tax liability. For more information, please visit Georgia Film, Television and Digital Entertainment Tax Credit Page.
Georgia Business Tax Exemptions
Georgia Sales and Use Tax
Sales and use tax exemptions are available for machinery and equipment for a wide range of businesses and industries in Georgia. Some of the bases for these exemptions include those created for manufacturing production machinery, machinery or components to upgrade or replace existing machinery, investments made for warehouse and distribution centers, the purchase of new computer equipment, and several other categories. Additional information can be found at Georgia Sales and Use Tax Exemptions.2
Many of Georgia’s counties exempt up to 100 percent (100%) of manufacturer’s inventory under the local option “Freeport” law. In these “Freeport” counties, raw material, work-in-process, and finished goods inventory are all considered exempt. In addition, most “Freeport” counties exempt warehouse and distribution inventories from property taxes if the inventory is destined to be shipped out of state.
For more information about these tax programs, please see the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s website..
Coastal Georgia is supported by a highly efficient inter-modal transportation network that consists of two interstate highways (I-95 and I-16), two world-class ports (Port of Savannah and Port of Brunswick), two major rail carriers (CSX and Norfolk Southern), and one international airport (Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport). This impressive transportation corridor offers ready mobility for business and industry. This network continues to make promoting economic development throughout the 10-county region an easy task
Interstate 95 bisects the region from the South Carolina border in the north to the Florida border in the south. This interstate is the primary north/south corridor between New York New York and Miami, Florida.
Interstate 16 is the primary east/west connector for central Georgia, connecting Savannah in the east with Macon and access to Interstate 75, and Atlanta, in the west. Interstate 16 crosses Interstate 95 in Pooler, near the Port of Georgia facilities in Savannah, making the northern part of the region a prime location for industrial development dependent upon access to multi-modal transportation and infrastructure.
As stated above, Georgia’s accessible ports are a major advantage for the manufacturing and distribution companies located throughout the region. Savannah’s Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility enables a seamless transfer of shipping containers onto trains and shortens the ship-to-market transit time to its delivery area. Facilitating global trade through strategic U.S. East Coast gateways, the Georgia Ports Authority is a leader in the operation of modern terminals and in meeting the demands of international business. In addition, there are two major rail service providers, CSX and Norfolk Southern, in the region. Both offer piggyback service at Savannah and rail service at Brunswick.
The Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport provides the region with access to international passenger and cargo air service. The terminal building was built in 1994. The airport is located strategically near the junction of Interstates 95 and 16, and the Savannah Ports.