The influence of elliptically and circularly polarized excitation on terahertz emission from unbiased bulk GaAs at normal incidence and room temperature is reported. Illumination of GaAs above the bandgap produces both spin-polarized electrons and shift currents. The induced currents are monitored via terahertz emission spectroscopy. The terahertz emission amplitude is compared to theoretical calculations as a function of excitation beam ellipticity. Exciting slightly above the bandgap (800 nm at room temperature) with elliptical polarization generates shift currents that deviate substantially from theoretical predictions. On the other hand, exciting either below the bandgap (835 nm at 77 K) to produce optical rectification or far above the bandgap (400 nm at room temperature) to produce shift currents generates emission in agreement with theoretical calculations. Spin-polarized electrons created by elliptically polarized excitation are the source of the observed discrepancy.