Attorney Jim Kearney talks to GPB about the new Georgia Tax Court

November 5, 2012

by Jeanne Bonner, Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Tax Court To Open in January

Next year, Georgia will open a special court dealing with tax disputes. The pilot program in Fulton County could herald more such courts around the state.

The court will open in January for individual taxpayers and companies with Georgia operations.

About 20 other states have such courts.

Jim Kearney, a tax attorney with the Savannah firm HunterMaclean, says he welcomes the court because he says tax matters are highly complex.

You have to understand taxes in order to be able to handle them well and unfortunately the system that we now have places tax cases on appeal before judges who have to handle a wide array of issues and they don’t get the opportunity to specialize,” he said. “And tax matters really require some specialty.

State officials say it’s something businesses look for when relocating.

Brian Robinson is a spokesman for Governor Nathan Deal, whose office is overseeing the establishment of the court. He says some tax disputes take time to sort out.

“What we want to be able to do is in those cases we have a logical place for these businesses to get expeditious relief,” he said. “And when I say relief I don’t mean necessarily a reduction in their tax bill. I mean an end to litigation so that they can get a resolution and move forward.”

The state has earmarked money to pay for the pilot court. Kearney and Lange say the key will be ensuring permanent funds.

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