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March 6, 2014

County begins revenue stream evaluations

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Per request from the Baldwin County Commissioners, county management began a revenue stream analysis during Tuesday's work session.

County Manager Ralph McMullen presented background, current enforcement and future possibilities surrounding the county's occupation tax.

“This will generate discussions and try to get a plan of action for us to tackle these issues,” McMullen said Tuesday.

The occupation tax applies to a person engaged in any business, trade, profession or occupation having one or more employees or agents who exert substantial efforts within the unincorporated part of the county for the purpose of soliciting business or serving customers that own real or personal property generating income.

The Georgia General Assembly passed a law effective in 1995 that did away with the term “business license.”

The law mandated three criteria for business classification and mandated that local governments choose one of the three to determine the occupation tax levied.

Governments use either number of employees, profitability ratios or gross receipts in combination with profitability ratios. 

Baldwin County figures the occupation tax based on employee numbers.

The lowest yearly tax rung is $35 with the maximum for businesses over 50 employees at $500.

Baldwin County's occupation tax is interrelated to the alcoholic beverage ordinance.

Class A and B alcohol license holders are currently exempt from paying occupation tax.

“That doesn't happen anywhere other than Baldwin County,” McMullen said. “These individuals get by without paying for one of their licenses.”

The previous Baldwin County Commissioners decided not to amend the alcohol ordinance to remove the exemption clause in April 2012. 

Occupation tax schedule increases were also discussed during public hearing.

“At that time, no board action was taken,” the county manager said.

For comparison, the City of Milledgeville uses gross receipts to calculate occupation taxes. The city's fees are much higher than the county.

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