Tax Murder


Here's a movie worth watching: An Atlanta-based company called The Script Shop that hawks TV and film scripts by mail and the Internet refuses to sell its wares in its home state of Georgia. The culprit: a state sales tax system every bit as twisted–and unbelievable–as the plot to Hollywood thrillers like Basic Instinct and Mission: Impossible.

Georgia has a base sales tax of 4 percent. But depending on which county you're in and what year it is, the actual tax rate could be as high as 7 percent. As a helpful Department of Revenue official explains, each of the state's 159 counties can add up to 3 percent. For example, two counties in the Atlanta metropolitan area charge an extra 1 percent to subsidize MARTA, the local mass transit system. And many counties tack on an extra 1 percent tax to build new schools, fund new streets or sidewalks, or pay for special projects. The supplemental sales tax can't be levied for longer than five years without reauthorization, so some are expiring as others are going into effect.

The inherent complexity of the system–and the massive paperwork necessary for compliance–has caused The Script Shop to shut down production when it comes to the Peach State. "The sales tax requirements are so complicated and the paper work is so time consuming that we actually lose money if we sell our products in Georgia," explains The Script Shop's Web site (www.scriptshop. com). Not a Hollywood ending, exactly, but a totally understandable one.