Businesses that are in arrears have a one-time chance to skip late fees and penalties.
Macon-Bibb County commissioners approved a safe haven period until June 30 to pay up past due occupation taxes, commonly referred to as business licenses.
A failure in the county’s computer system that tracks delinquent taxpayers means some business owners may have unintentionally let their compliance lapse.
“We had some glitches in that many businesses did not get their business license renewal,” said Commissioner Mallory Jones, who sponsored the ordinance.
When businesses failed to pay, many of them fell off the list, stopped getting renewal notices and haven’t paid in years.
“To me this is not to incentivize bad behavior but to get all the money in,” Jones said. “I think we’re going to find a lot of (overdue) businesses we didn’t know about. To them, they look at that notice like a bill.”
Normally, occupation taxes are due by April 1 of each year. When a business fails to pay, the county assesses an administrative fee of 1.5% per month.
Business owners must fully pay the taxes they owe by the end of June to be eligible for the waiver of penalties.
“Whether it was our fault or their fault, it’s a one-time safe haven until June 30,” Jones said.
Going forward, the county plans to outsource the collection of the occupational tax and alcohol license fees to the tax commissioner, which could enable online payments and greater accountability.
That proposal has yet to be finalized as part of a proposed reorganization of the county’s whole Business Development Services department.
Mayor Robert Reichert and County Manager Keith Moffett want SAFEbuilt Georgia LLC to assume responsibility for permit plans and construction inspections, but commissioners tabled the matter Tuesday over concerns.
If commissioners do approve the privatization of those services, only code enforcement to combat blight will remain under the department’s control.