2 hospitals qualify for GA tax credit

5/15/17 — For a limited time, Georgia taxpayers can receive a 90 percent state tax credit when they contribute to designated rural hospitals – including St. Mary's Sacred Heart Hospital in Lavonia and St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro – through the new Georgia Rural Hospital Tax Credit Program.

The program, created by Senate Bill 180, allows taxpayers to receive 90 percent credit on their state taxes for contributions of up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for married couples. "C" corporations can receive credit for up to 75 percent of their total Georgia income tax liability. In addition, these contributions can be claimed as charitable deductions on federal income tax returns.

Because this is a tax credit, the contribution is applied directly against the amount the taxpayer owes in state taxes. So, if a married couple gives $10,000 to a designated rural hospital, the actual amount of Georgia income tax they will owe is reduced by $9,000. The new law creates a pool of up to $60 million in tax credits for three years – 2017, 2018 and 2019 – with each hospital having access to up to $4 million each year.

The program is designed to provide vital funding for rural hospitals in Georgia, many of which are facing major financial challenges. Initially, SB 180 provided for 70 percent tax credits, but the law was amended to increase the credit limit to a full 90 percent to make the program even more attractive to taxpayers.

"We are very pleased and appreciative that Georgia lawmakers understood the importance to our rural hospitals and communities of the success of this innovative program," said Don McKenna, President and CEO of St. Mary's Health Care System. "We are especially appreciative that lawmakers increased the tax credit from. This increase is a game-changer that will inspire many more people to help their local hospital."

Good Samaritan Hospital President Montez Carter noted that there is a competitive element built into the law. Because the legislation sets a $60 million limit on annual credits, it is important for people to act quickly to ensure their local hospital does not miss out.

"The program is first-come, first-served, and when the overall cap is reached, the window of opportunity closes for that year," Carter said. "That's why it's important for people to want to help our hospitals to act soon. Once the state hits that $60 million cap the program ends for this year."

Sacred Heart Hospital President Jeff English also noted that each individual hospital potentially can receive up to $4 million per year for a maximum of $12 million over the life of the program. "That kind of money would be a tremendous shot in the arm for any hospital," he said, "but since there are 40 eligible hospitals and a $60 million total cap, only a few hospitals can reach that level, and some hospitals will receive a lot less."

Any Georgia taxpayer can give to any designated hospital, so contributions to Sacred Heart and Good Samaritan could come from anyone, anywhere, who owes Georgia income taxes.

"Part of the idea of the legislation is that people in cities like Atlanta, Athens and Augusta will step up to help hospitals in smaller communities, especially if they have connections there such as family, friends or vacation destinations," English said.

Contributions to St. Mary's Good Samaritan and Sacred Heart hospitals will be used to:
•Maintain the facilities in excellent condition and allow for growth to meet their community's changing needs
•Continue to acquire modern new technology to provide state-of-the-art services locally
•Continue to build access to services not routinely found in rural communities, such as nuclear medicine and 3D mammography
•Support the growing demands of both hospitals' 24/7 Emergency Departments so that quality care is always available when time is critical
•Expand telemedicine capabilities, such as the REACH telestroke system, so that the hospitals can connect patients to physician specialists through technology, reducing the need for transfers.

Giving is easy through the Georgia HEART website at georgiaheart.org, where taxpayers who want to help can now complete the tax credit application form and request an estimate of the net after-tax benefit cost of contributing to a participating Georgia HEART hospital.

For more information, please contact Lauren Papka at St. Mary's Sacred Heart Hospital at 706.356.7800 or lpapka@stmaryssacredheart.org, or Beth Patrick at St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital at 706.453.5187 or epatrick@stmarysgoodsam.org.

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