Madison County commissioners speak every few months about the county’s occupation tax. Should they continue it? Should it be modified?
The group will discuss the matter again this week as it considers three options presented by building inspections director Eddie Pritchett, who manages the county’s occupation tax.
Madison County businesses in unincorporated areas of the county are expected to pay an occupation tax in 2009. Those payments are due by April 1.
But Pritchett suggested that the board eliminate the “per employee” fee, which has thus far been included in the occupation tax. He suggested that the board look at a $60 flat fee, with a $50 late fee applied to any payment after April 1. The BOC might also consider a $40 flat fee with a $20 late fee applied after April 1, a fee schedule that would essentially allow the building inspections office to break even on enforcing the tax.
If modifications are made, Madison County businesses that have already paid for 2009 would be granted refunds for any overcharge.
Pritchett also said the board could consider a third option: scrapping the occupation tax completely and refunding roughly $10,000 in collected fees.
Proponents of the occupation tax say it allows contractors who must have a business license to do work in other counties to pay for one license, rather than numerous licenses elsewhere. They also say that the tax will allow the government to compile a list of what businesses are actually in the county, giving people a better understanding of what business opportunities are available.
Opponents of the tax say it does nothing for businesses except dig into their pockets.
Currently, the occupation tax includes a $36 administration fee, along with a “per employee” fee, which is as follows: 0-3 FT employees — $24; 4-20 FT employees — $8 per employee; 21-100 employees — $160 plus $6 per employee in excess of 20; 100 or more full-time employees — $640 plus $6 per employee in excess of 100.
Commissioners voiced some concern Monday about whether small business owners — such as hairdressers or plumbers — who operate their businesses on properties designated for conservation use, will breach their conservation status if they are forced to get a business license.
County attorney Mike Pruett advised the board that agricultural businesses are allowed on conservation land, but other businesses are not.
Pritchett said he didn’t want to see a situation where someone who has a desk and a computer for their at-home plumbing business is forced to get a license and thus, forced to breach their conservation status. He said the interim chief appraiser says the state won’t require a breach of conservation status in such a case, but Pruett’s opinion differed.
The board agreed to ask the interim chief appraiser to address the matter with the board Monday.
Madison County citizens wishing to address the board about the occupation tax can do so at Monday’s 6:30 p.m. meeting in the county government complex.
03/02/09 at 07:20 PM
The answer is obvious: scrap the Bad For Business License. The money collected doesn't even cover enforcement. People with at home businesses are being taxed twice for the same property.
And if there is a contractor that thinks they want one of these (um, aren't contractors / plumbers / electricians, etc. already licensed by THE STATE?) then make it voluntary and these businesses can pay for the license online, and they can download and print the license themselves so there will be virtually no cost for the county to cover.
Most importantly, right now our small businesses are fighting just to survive. Now is hardly the time to raise taxes on these businesses...especially with a tax that doesn't even pay for itself and will actually cost the non-business taxpayers more money as well!
03/08/09 at 07:44 AM
As the owner of two very-small business' we are barely holding on; every penny counts.