Monday, January 28, 2013

Most common business license fee in Decatur: $255

Although some businesses in Decatur are required to pay up to $485 per year for their business license, the majority of local businesses are charged a $230 occupational tax plus a $25 administrative fee as “Class 2” businesses under the city’s occupation tax ordinances.  About 245 of Decatur’s 510 local businesses (excluding home-based businesses, professionals such as doctors and architects, and insurance carriers) fall under Class 2, which includes most restaurants and many retailers.

The majority of Decatur businesses pay the second lowest tax class rate out of 7 rates

The city’s occupational tax rates are based on profitability ratios.  The concept is that, generally speaking, businesses in lines of work that are more profitable are expected to pay a higher occupation tax rate that businesses that are less profitable.

More information on Decatur’s business licensing fees can be found on our website here.  The deadline for businesses to pay for a 2013 license is this Wednesday.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Business license renewals due in 10 days

Each business in Decatur must renew its business license for 2013 by paying its annual occupation tax bill by Jan. 31.  Bills were originally mailed on Nov. 30.

In addition to the renewal payment, state law also requires businesses to file two notarized immigration-related affidavits (SAVE and E-verify) annually with the city they receive their license from.  You can submit your payment and affidavits by mail to P.O. Box 220, Decatur, GA  30031 or in person at 509 N. McDonough St.

If you did not receive your bill, or if you received a bill but are no longer doing business in the city, please let us know.

Occupation tax bills in Decatur can range from $195 up to $460 annually.  Unlike many local governments in Georgia that tax businesses on their gross receipts, Decatur uses a simpler system of six flat rates.  Revenues from occupation taxes go to the City’s general fund, which is used to provide quality services to the public.

More information about business licensing in Decatur can be found on our website here.  Decatur’s business license rules apply to persons, partnerships, corporations and other entities including home-based businesses, state-licensed professionals, insurance carriers, and regular businesses.  City ordinances require local businesses to display their license in a place that’s easy to see.

Thanks to all our occupational taxpayers for choosing to do business in the City of Decatur!

Friday, January 18, 2013

City sends out 700 reminders

In an effort to notify property owners of any past due property tax balances from 2012 or earlier, the Revenue Division of the City of Decatur mailed out about 600 notices to owners with unpaid balances this week.  Penalties and interest accrued on unpaid balances since our payment grace period ended on January 7.  We mailed out the original bills October 2012.

The City is also sending invoices to about 90 local attorneys who have not yet paid their 2012 occupation taxes.

If you believe that you already paid, please call us at 404-370-4100 so we can rectify the situation.  To ensure the best service possible, please have a copy of your tax bill on hand when you call.

Attempting to collect back taxes due by sending these notices is vital part of upholding the City’s 2010 Strategic Plan, Principle C, by practicing good fiscal stewardship.  The unpaid bills represent about $1 million due to the City and the school system, which is slightly less due than normal for this time of year.

Monday, January 14, 2013

City tax collection rate inches up

The grace period for Decatur's 2012 second installment real property and annual business personal property tax payments expired on Jan. 7, 2013.  By the end of the grace period, the city normally has a collection rate for real property taxes of about 94 or 95 percent, with the remaining amount collected in subsequent months through delinquent collections, lien filing, and annual tax sale processes.  

By the end of the grace period this year, we are already at a 97 percent collection rate.  This represents an improvement of about $300,000 collected for the City and school system compared to the same deadline last year.

By the end of the tax sale, which we usually conduct each August, Decatur’s real property tax collection rate normally reaches 99.9 percent.  Thank you, Decatur taxpayers, for your timely payments and high rate of tax compliance!

Unfortunately, the collection rate for business personal property taxes (such as business inventory and equipment) is much lower than for real property, but the rate is consistent with prior year collections.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Property tax exemption not always automatic for Georgia charities

In a recent decision, the Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed the denial of tax-exempt status for tax years 2008 and 2009 for a property owned by a Fulton County charity.  H.O.P.E. for Divine Interventions, an organization providing services to needy families, was entitled to the exemption in 2010 and subsequent years when it actually delivered charitable services, but not from 2008-09 while the gutted apartment building H.O.P.E owned was being constructed and renovated.

H.O.P.E. argued that the construction and renovation of the property was a necessary step in its ultimate purpose of housing formerly homeless tenants, and asserted that the building was never used for any non-charitable purpose.  But the Court of Appeals found that the tax code does not exempt properties from taxes where charitable use is still being planned.

The firm of Sutherland, Asbill, & Brennan LLP has a short analysis of the decision and a link to the full ruling here.

In Decatur, property owners can apply for tax-exempt status through the DeKalb County assessor’s office.  For tax purposes, the City of Decatur uses the taxable or tax-exempt status that DeKalb determines.

In 2012, the assessed value of tax-exempt property in Decatur is $87 million out of $1.2 billion in total assessed value, or 7 percent of underlying property value in the city.

Major tax-exempt properties in Decatur include DeKalb County, Agnes Scott, the City of Decatur, Columbia Seminary, the housing authority, DeKalb Medical, the First Baptist Church, Decatur First UMC, MARTA, and city schools.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Property tax grace period ends in 5 days

The City of Decatur’s second installment real property tax bills and business personal property tax bills for 2012 were due on Dec. 20.  No penalties or interest have been charged to past due accounts yet, but this grace period will end this Monday, Jan. 7.  After that, a 10 percent penalty and monthly interest charge of 1 percent will apply to unpaid amounts.

For the first time, we enclosed a return envelope with your tax bill that you can use to send your payment.  Previously, you had to provide your own envelope.  As long as you get your payment postmarked by Jan. 7, no penalties or interest will apply.

If you’re not sure about your payment status, you can check our website at  Please be aware that payments may not display on the website until 48 hours after your check has cleared the bank.

On average, we will have collected 92 percent of taxes due to the City by the conclusion of the grace period.  The remaining 7.9 percent will be collected in subsequent weeks and months through our delinquent collections, tax lien, and tax sale processes.

On behalf of the Revenue Division, I’d like to thank all the taxpayers of Decatur for funding the high-quality services the City provides, and for giving us the opportunity to serve you!