From the HEART


June 11, 2018

I often wonder if I take for granted the excellent access I have to healthcare. Within a mile of my residence, there are some of the best doctors and medical research in the world. Just a few more miles away, I have access to our region’s best trauma center. Like most American metropolitan cities, Atlanta has an abundance of healthcare choices. Unfortunately that is not the case when you get outside metropolitan areas. In fact, when I am in a rural area or a foreign country, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I had a serious accident or medical emergency. Would the only option be a medical evacuation? Those thoughts reinforce my appreciation of the outstanding good healthcare services close by my home.

The challenge of keeping our smaller rural hospitals healthy and vibrant is a common problem to many areas. The problem has received some very positive attention in our home state of Georgia. In 2016 the Georgia Assembly passed favorable legislation to address the declining financial situation of many Georgia rural hospitals. This law became effective in 2017. Its main goal is to funnel more financial resources to qualifying rural health care institutions, by promoting donations from individuals who receive a state income tax credit in return.

The program is called the Georgia HEART Hospital Program. Interest in the Program is high this year following the passing of the new Federal tax laws which limit state and local taxes (SALT) and property tax deductions. Many taxpayers are now searching for new ways to manage their deductions, and the Georgia HEART may just be a creative option for some income earners. The Program was given a further boost in May when our Governor increased the state tax credit amount from 90% to 100% to make it even more appealing.

To participate in the program you have to apply before July 1, 2018 to ensure you get your 100% state tax credit. Contributions must be made to a qualified Rural Hospital Organization (RHO). Your donation gets converted into a tax credit which, as you know, is better than a deduction. Presently there are 58 RHOs, 52 of which are participating in Georgia HEART.

If you’re interested in learning more about Georgia HEART, I suggest you reach out to your CPA to see if this program can be beneficial to you. In any case, with the new tax law in place, we are strongly encouraging everyone to increase their communication with their tax accountant since there are so many nuances to the new Federal tax law and how it impacts taxpayers. If Georgia HEART sounds like a cause you would like to support please hurry, July 1 is fast approaching.

Gary Martin