Liquor license backlog is a big deal - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Liquor license backlog is a big deal

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A hold-up with state liquor licenses for restaurants, convenience stores, and package stores could cost cites and the state precious tax revenue. It's also hurting some businesses because they can't reorder supplies their customers want.

Some owners say this isn't the first time they've had trouble.

Bo Henry applied for Harvest Moon's state liquor license in October. He has yet to receive it, just recently the state faxed him a copy of his license allowing him to replenish his alcohol supply, but without this license, a distributor can not sell to a business.

The taps with cups on top have run dry at Beef O'Brady's on Gillionville Road. They stocked up in December but haven't received their state liquor license applied for months ago. 13:01:50 Loretta "We sent off for our state license in November and they actually cashed our check November 16th," said Mgr. Loretta Martin.

It may have been a mix up with the forms to reapply. "They wanted you to send the whole form instead of just the bottom portion and they didn't notify anybody who just sent the bottom portion that they needed more information."

But reaching the Department of Revenue in Atlanta to find out is nearly impossible, when we called today there was a 45 minute wait. "After you wait 45 minutes on the phone, just to get to somebody then it's like we're really busy, so which isn't a good excuse to us," said Martin.

Bo Henry said what he got was "An apology. They were sorry that it happened wish that it wouldn't have and all they've been is on the phone, talking about licensing."

It's beginning to hurt sales, in an already tough economy, and may even affect some jobs. "To take care of our employees properly of course it takes the proper amount of sales for us to pay them on Fridays like we're supposed to," Henry said.

Not to mention city and state tax dollars. Restaurants pay 3% in taxes on each liquor drink they sell, and nearly 50% on every bottle they stock in their bar. 

"This is the worst time to have any hold back on generating revenue," said Henry.

Restaurants hope the state will get the problem fixed quickly, allowing them to go about their business.

When we talked to the Department of Revenue their explanation for the trouble was that some of theses businesses may have unpaid tax issues and legally that can't discuss it. Both businesses we talked to say that's just an excuse and that's not true. The Department of Revenue like other state offices are dealing with furloughs and are also now busy with tax season. 

A few years ago, the deadline to renew a state liquor license was moved from April to the first of January. Since then restaurants and distributors say there's been trouble getting their licenses back.

An online extension granted last year was not offered this year.

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