You know that old expression - it's time to pay the piper - well that is the case if your business is located in an unincorporated part of Bulloch County, and you haven't paid your Occupation Tax which was due on July 1.
Created by the Bulloch County Board of County Commissioners, the Occupation Tax officially went into effect on July 1, 2010, but more than two thirds of business owners have not paid either last year or this year's $125 flat fee tax.
"The Occupation Tax is essentially the same thing as a business license," said Randy Newman, Bulloch County zoning administrator. "We sent out over 1,200 letters of notification, and have only received 376 payments so far. More than two thirds of the business owners that should have paid, have not. That's a significant number, which represents over $100,000 in lost revenue to the county for this year alone."
Newman said it is the job of his office to let business owners know the tax is due, and to let them know that penalties are contained within the law.
"Since last year was the first year that the tax was enacted, we really tried to give people the opportunity to come in and pay, because it is new, and most people really weren't aware of it," he said. "We are now in year two, and letters and notifications have been sent, so at this point we are really encouraging people to pay the tax, before the next step is taken."
The ordinance states that any "business, practitioner or person who is subject to occupation taxes and administrative fees and who fails or refuses to pay the taxes or fees" can be subject to prosecution in the Magistrate Court of Bulloch County, and could receive a fine not to exceed $500.00.
I asked Newman if his office was going to proceed with citations regarding nonpayment.
"If another 60 days or so goes by, and the tax hasn't been paid, I don't see that we have much choice," he said. "I just want to again encourage people to go ahead and pay their occupation tax. We certainly don't want them to have to go to Magistrate Court."
Be honest, whether you have a business that is affected or not, you don't want to hear about any new taxes, but Newman said this one serves a meaningful purpose for many.
"A lot of business owners must present a valid business license to do business in another county or state," he said. "Prior to this law, there was no way for them to obtain one which was an impediment to them in trying to conduct business elsewhere. That was one of the main reasons that the occupational tax was created."
The cities of Statesboro, Brooklet, and Portal also have occupational tax/business license ordinances on their books for businesses located in those incorporated areas. So, for those of you in an unincorporated part of the county who have not paid the tax, it would appear that the ball is now in your court.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463. or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org