Toccoa Commission Approves Updated Occupation Tax Ordinance

The city of Toccoa updates its occupation tax ordinance.

Monday, city commissioners unanimously approved an updated version of the occupation tax ordinance.

According to Toccoa City Attorney John Dickerson, the updated ordinance includes a number of changes.

Dickerson said one change increases the flat fee assessed against businesses that are defined as professional businesses, such as lawyers.

“Those professionals are regulated by state statute and are not subject to the occupation tax predicated on gross receipts,” said Dickerson. “However, there can be a flat fee and we increased the flat fee from $175 to $200.”

Another issue clarified in the updated ordinance is the verification of a business’s gross receipts.

The city of Toccoa uses a business’s gross receipts as part of determining the occupation tax for a business for the next year. Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson has expressed concerns that some businesses are under-reporting gross revenues.

Dickerson said the updated ordinance adds some language and more clearly defines the right of the city to require supported documentation to verify a business’s gross receipts.

“The city can generally ask for documentation from an accountant, be that a certified public accountant or a registered accountant,” said Dickerson. “The city can ask for documentation from the bookkeeper establishing what the gross receipts are and then of course, the city can make its own independent audit of all of the tax returns or filings with the state Department of Revenue in regards to gross sales in order to establish what the actual gross receipts for a particular business might be.”

At a December 10 work session, some city officials said a concerted effort to audit businesses could be a deterrent to under-reporting gross revenues. However, concerns were raised about the cost of such a program and whether such a policy would be conducive to growth in the community.

Dickerson said a third change in the updated occupation tax ordinance deals with newly established businesses.

“We did establish a flat fee subject to revision once some gross receipts are reported, generally this would be for businesses that intend to be in business longer than 30 days and the flat fee would be assessed subject to either reduction or increase based on whatever the gross receipts for that business were.”

That flat fee is $100, according to the updated ordinance.

Dickerson said work continues on updates to city ordinances that set rules for businesses that are in place for a period less than 30 days.

Under the updated occupation tax ordinance, the occupation tax is considered late if not paid by March 1.

The city commission approved the updated ordinance following the second reading. The first reading of the ordinance took place at the November 26 city commission meeting.