Should Referendum B be approved by voters?

Published 5:24 pm Friday, November 2, 2018

Dear Editor,

Referendum B included business-financed properties in existing nonprofit mentally disabled housing tax exemption. This ballot is about taxation for nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled. This could apply when financing for construction or renovation of the houses, when this property is provided by a corporation or any other entity. If this was to get approved, the act would be full force in effect Jan. 1, 2019.

This bill is based on House Bill 196, No. 25 Ga. L. 2017, p. 55.  According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it reads “Shall the Act be approved which provides an exemption from ad valorem taxes on nonprofit homes for the mentally disabled if they include business corporations in the ownership structure for financing purposes?”

In the United States, we are faced with a huge dilemma of mental health. Passing this bill will make an effort to combat that dilemma and assist the Americans that need the most help. Here in the U.S., there are thousands upon thousands who are affected by mental illnesses and desperately need help.  Sadly, for those individuals, the only help that anyone seems interested in providing is a jail cell.  This country’s jails and prisons are littered with men and women, who with proper care would have never needed to be there.  This bill however will ensure that those facilities that are dedicated to providing such help will be able to continue to do so. 

For those that think tax cuts for mental institutions will be a burden on the American people, they must consider the alternative — a prisoner is an expensive proposition, financially and morally. There is already overcrowding in the current prison system, so keeping those with mental illnesses out of prisons and into institutions should be the clear choice. The government will have to either pay for their care or their confinement, so we might as well choose the one that doesn’t ruin a life.

Very few oppose Referendum B. If the people of Georgia decide against the bill, then it would prevent nonprofit institutions for mentally disabled and the for-profit companies that help finance the properties that the non-profits use to receive a tax break.

But a reason to be against Referendum B is because for-profit companies may use the nonprofit industry designation to avoid paying property taxes. It also only applies to nonprofits that help the mentally disabled and this can lead to a neglect of other nonprofits. Though this bill is already in effect, Referendum B is mostly a clarification of the wording of the House Bill 196.

Referendum B is mostly a clarification of terms to ensure the tax break for nonprofits.


LaGrange College