Last Spring, the Georgia General Assembly www.legis.ga.gov passed the “Rural Hospital Tax Credit Bill” (SB 258) to allow individuals and corporations to receive tax credits for financial contributions made to certain eligible rural hospitals.
Since 2013, five hospitals in Georgia have closed and many more have been faced with major financial challenges. The rural hospital tax credit bill, authored by Representative Geoff Duncan has been championed by the hospital community throughout the 2016 legislative session.
The Georgia Hospital Association (GHA) www.gha.org instrumental in the design and passage of the legislation, would allow $50 million in tax credits in the program’s first year in 2017. This tax credit legislation opens the door for many rural hospitals in the state to receive up to $4 million in contributions annually.
Specially, the legislation allows single taxpayers a 70 percent tax credit on donations of up to $2,500 per year, married couples a 70 percent credit on contributions up to $5,000 per year, and corporations a 70 percent tax credit on contributions or up to 75 percent of their Georgia income tax liability whichever is less. Contributors may also be eligible for federal tax deductions.
In order for individual and corporate taxpayers to take advantage of the program, Atlanta-based Portage Charity Advisors created “Georgia Helping Ensure Access to Rural Treatment or referred to as Georgia HEART.
Georgia HEART was established to help qualifying hospitals many of which do not have the staff to handle the administrative responsibilities of the program. These administrative responsibilities include marketing, tracking, processing, and reporting requirements.
Georgia HEART will help rural hospitals promote the new program, help process and coordinate taxpayer contributions, and provide hospitals with a customized online dashboard that will allow them to track the real-time status of taxpayer pre-approvals and contributions.
A list of those hospitals in the state that will be eligible to participate in the program will be compiled. The hospital list is expected to include between 35 and 50 rural hospitals but has not been publicly released.