Commissioners to vote on Occupational tax - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners to vote on Occupational tax

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September 25, 2007

Albany - Albany City Commissioners will consider making a change Tuesday night that could increase business operating fees nearly 17%. It's called an Occupational Tax and, if approved, would replace current business licenses.

Right now, if you own and operate a business in Albany, you are required to pay a fee for a business license. "It's just permission from the local government to operate a business within our limits," said Kris Newton.

Right now, that fee is as low as $100, and as high as $7,600, but changes are on the way, including changing the name. "That term implies that we're endorsing a business and guaranteeing what they're doing. Of course, we can't do that, so the business licenses are now an occupational tax."

The current process to calculate the fee for the business license, is complicated, and not-efficient, so interim finance director Kris Newton, has proposed a new way of calculating the tax.

Here's the process:  There are six different Profitability classes. You find where you're business ranks on the list. Let's say perhaps you own a TV station like WALB.

Broadcast TV is in class 5. So, based on the recommended form, you would multiply your gross tax receipts, let's say $150,000 for this demonstration, and multiply it by the rate applied of .000750. That puts the tax at $112.50, just $12.50 over the minimum tax of $100.

"We tried to adjust the rates so that small business would pay absolutely nothing different than they did the year before," said Newton.

With the current proposal, half of all businesses won't see any increase at all. The largest businesses will see the biggest increase, but there's a cap of $8,600, so that multi-million dollar businesses won't be punished for being profitable.

If approved, the ordinance will be amended every two years, so increases in the tax rate won't come as a shock to business owners.

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