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Firm to seek unpaid Augusta business taxes

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Making a buck on an Augusta street corner or as an independent contractor could get a little more expensive for some in the new year.

Under an agreement recently finalized by city officials, a firm called Public Resource Management Alliance Corp., or PREMA, in January will begin its pursuit of individuals and groups who have failed to pay occupational taxes, the charge required to hold a business tax certificate.

Commissioner Jerry Brigham, who leaves office at year’s end, said he pushed to hire the collections company to be fair to the majority of businesses that pay their occupational taxes.

“Why should they be exempt from having to pay?” he asked. “I’m certainly not exempt. Why do they get a freebie and other people are paying taxes?”

No one knows exactly how much uncollected occupational tax revenue is out there. The city collected $2.5 million this year. Brigham said the firm’s ability to collect in other cities and its willingness to work mainly on a contingency basis indicate the uncollected revenue exists in Augusta.

According to its proposal, PREMA identified 412 unlicensed businesses in Homewood, Ala., $2.5 million in uncollected business tax revenue in Gwinnett County, Ga., and $3.5 million in occupational taxes in Sandy Springs, Ga.

Under the agreement with Augusta, the firm would keep half of what it collects, including interest and penalties. The city also will pay $62,400 annually for data entry.

The company identifies the revenue by comparing Augusta’s business license database with other available databases and by using a “boots on the ground” approach, according to its proposal.

Rob Sherman, the director of licensing for the city’s Planning and Development department, said he doesn’t expect individuals who perform occasional housework, for instance, to be a high priority, while a yard service that advertises would be fair game.

Also potentially targeted will be individuals or groups working under larger institutions such as colleges and hospitals that should have individual business licenses but do not, according to an earlier report from Planning and Development Director George Patty. Researchers, individuals providing support services as independent contractors and even doctors working independently within hospitals might receive a bill, it said.

“If there’s a 1099 employee, there’s a good chance they will be required to have a business license,” Sherman said, of individuals who file a 1099 income tax form for miscellaneous income.

The tax is based on a business’ gross revenue. A business in the lowest bracket – revenues up to $30,000 – pays $89 for a license. Companies in the highest bracket – with gross revenues of $30 million – pay $12,509.

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OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/28/12 - 07:47 pm
8
0
I smell a Fred Russell

While I agree with the reason behind it.

I have also saw this group in Gwinnett Co. operating.
SBI4 can tell you they are extremely aggressive in hounding even
basic home care persons (medical/maids).

This could also mean Columbia & Burke co. and SC. Businesses called to do work in A-RC will have to purchase A-RC licenses.

Talk about STRONG Tactics.
Some one tell me how this is going the improve or not hurt A-RC's image?

Think of all the MASTERS related issues. Heck think of the Augusta National itself and it recent expansions and businesses.

BTW:
GWINNETT CO. got a better deal than 50/50 - 65k
just check the Gwinnett Web Site.

dichotomy
36291
Points
dichotomy 12/28/12 - 08:50 pm
8
0
"GWINNETT CO. got a better

"GWINNETT CO. got a better deal than 50/50 - 65k"

OC....you KNOW nobody in RC government can negotiate a decent deal.

specsta
6775
Points
specsta 12/28/12 - 10:10 pm
10
1
Doesn't Augusta Have Better Things To Do?

This is actually a rather stupid idea.

If someone is selling a few T-shirts on the corner or is an independent contractor, such as an artist, do we really need to squeeze almost $100 out of them? It might take them a couple of weeks to make that back.

Maids? Home health-care aides? What's next, Girl Scouts selling cookies or the kid who offers to rake leaves or mow the lawn?

Just more government control. Not needed.

younameit
216
Points
younameit 12/29/12 - 05:45 am
7
1
Squealing Over the Cliff

If you ever wonder whether collecting taxes as provided by the law is a good thing, or whether sequestering and cutting runaway government spending is a good thing, just listen for the squealing sound from the liberals as they go over the cliff. They never want to pay what they owe, and they never pass on a government handout of other people's money. Never!

Riverman1
90733
Points
Riverman1 12/29/12 - 07:45 am
6
0
What's a Business?

The problem is there are businesses and there are businesses. For instance, a sole proprietor who furnishes skilled consulting services to clients all over the country from his home hardly needs a business license in Augusta. There are thousands of people in this category and this plan is going to create an uproar.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 12/29/12 - 07:58 am
0
0
Does the individual claim "business ownership"
Unpublished

as a deduction on their Income Tax. I.E., they use a portion of their home for business purposes thereby reducing their tax liability. Fair is fair. CC has many contractors who run a business out of their personal single family residences. CC does not enforce laws regarding this practice. They "him haw" around and do nothing.

soapy_725
43963
Points
soapy_725 12/29/12 - 08:03 am
0
0
ARC contracts always have a PLUS?
Unpublished

No matter what the conditions of the contract, their is always at least one "add on" that allows for hidden kick backs. 50/50 but ARC has to pay for the data entry. The contract most likely has a minimum collection that ARC guarantees. Can they also collect unpaid property taxes? And require vehicle license plate and tail lights for the lawn services? LOL LOL

Chuck Odom
211
Points
Chuck Odom 12/29/12 - 08:31 am
3
3
Long overdue!

I'm tired of paying for my license every year and watching others who refuse to get a license getting away with it because there have never been any consequences (until now).

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/29/12 - 08:56 am
4
0
Chuck - I agree to point

but lets be sensible about it also.

Go after people set up as businesses, an NOT a individual scraping by, or doing a few odd side jobs to stay a float.

Why use a 3rd party to collect fees and charge 1/2 plus RC-A pays out another $65k?

BIG QUESTION
If there is this much $$$$ to be collected, then hire 5 RC-A Code Enforcement Officers to write citations and/or make arrests to ensure the collection of fines.

We have a group of professionally trained people called the RCSO that regularly patrol RC-A and can easily call in a RC-A Code Officer to any location as needed.

Also RC-A could set up a Online 1 to 2 day temporary street vendor license purchase URL and charge $10 to $25 depending on the size and type of peddler. Eliminating the hassle of going DOWNTOWN to apply for 1-2 day street permit.

Example:
For years now I have complained that I am tired of the professional printed road side signs on a stake. Selling mattresses, buy houses, gutter cleaning, improving credit history and many more. Want $$$$
then start fining this road trash per sign.

But this collection group without proper limitations and restraints will drill down to BS things like they did in Gwinnett Co.

Like yard sales, or a artist doing quick charcoals in a restaurant.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/29/12 - 08:59 am
1
1
time to get the government

time to get the government out of business... except when it comes to getting their share eh?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 12/29/12 - 09:03 am
2
1
if they try to get me to buy a license for my yard sale

if they try to get me to buy a license for my yard sale I'll claim myself as an independent direct sales consultant for used sundry goods. also i'll pull a Clint Eastwood and be all "get off my lawn"

itsanotherday1
47013
Points
itsanotherday1 12/29/12 - 09:53 am
4
0
What OC said...

There are people and departments in place to deal with this. For what this company is going to get out of this, they could hire additional heads and keep all of that money local.

Anybody that is "in business" should be paying their fees, but it sounds like what they are defining as "in business" is a pretty big stretch.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 12/29/12 - 10:51 am
3
2
Chuck Odum for Mayor

Looking at the numbers from PREMA's other clients, Augusta may be losing big tax dollars they can ill afford to lose. If you're going to do business, you should pay for a business license like everyone else does.

If you can't afford it, well, you are in the wrong the business aren't you?

Little Lamb
48008
Points
Little Lamb 12/29/12 - 11:39 am
2
0
Contingency

If you hire a lawyer on contingency to collect from, say, an insurance company, the deal is that the client pays little to nothing and the lawyer gets around 30% and the client 70% if they prevail. Of course the lawyer gets nothing, but the client pays nothing if they lose. It's a tough racket.

This deal is bad for the city because they are paying the $65,000 year after year up front, and then are getting only 50% for actual collections brought in.

I would have had no problems if it was a 50%/50% split with no up front costs. With the city paying up front costs, it should have been 70% city / 30% Public Resource Management Alliance.

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 12/29/12 - 12:01 pm
3
0
I agree with that LL.

I agree with that LL. However, you would think that if the endeavor is not very successful cash-wise for the city; there won't be a 2nd year of fees. But, you never know since they have a dollar foolish track record. I was trying to give them credit for trying to be productive. We are all so sick of the whole lot that we are reluctant to give them much credit for anything.

gargoyle
19575
Points
gargoyle 12/29/12 - 02:27 pm
2
0
Looks like we just spilled

Looks like we just spilled another honey pot. Third party enforcement just like the probation company gone wild in this area.

younameit
216
Points
younameit 12/29/12 - 02:33 pm
3
1
Clearly the suggestion that

Clearly the suggestion that the government hire more mediocre employees to perform this function is naive. The function should be performed by those already on the payroll, but they WILL NOT DO IT! The deal with this contractor was poorly negotiated, but experience shows us if you want a job done DO NOT use government employees.

specsta
6775
Points
specsta 12/29/12 - 04:58 pm
1
1
Hmmmm...

Now that I read the article again, something doesn't smell right about this deal. It's also unusually convenient that the commissioner who pushed for this idea is leaving - thereby placing the certain fallout to this mess in the hands of the new crop of of commissioners.

There's a lot more to the underpinnings of this story than we are being led to believe. The control element (targeting small-time folks trying to make a dollar) is the bothersome part...

Willow Bailey
20603
Points
Willow Bailey 12/29/12 - 07:05 pm
1
1
The rules are the rules for

The rules are the rules for everyone, specsta. We don't need more picking and choosing of who has to follow them and who doesn't.

dichotomy
36291
Points
dichotomy 12/29/12 - 07:08 pm
2
0
Sure hope Brigham don't show

Sure hope Brigham don't show up as an employee of this company. Maybe that's where the extra $62.4K goes. Odd number ain't it?

bclicious
756
Points
bclicious 12/29/12 - 07:25 pm
0
1
This is a great idea....

As mentioned in the story; there are are hundreds of people who haven't paid their property taxes for years. So, why should even bother to pay my property taxes when others don't bother, and nothing happens to them.

Lastly, with this new money, perhaps the Richmond County employees can get a much deserved raise!

Chuck Odom
211
Points
Chuck Odom 12/30/12 - 09:54 am
0
0
This is a much bigger issue

This is a much bigger issue than some people doing a few side jobs or an occasional yardsale to raise some extra cash. This is about people who are running regular businesses who refuse to get a business license because nobody forces them to get one. And younameit is correct, it is naive to think hiring more county employees to track down these businesses will help. The License and Inspection Department has been told in the past SPECIFICALLY where to go to find many of these unlicensed businesses but they NEVER go there. Could the county have negotiated a better deal? Probably. But the deal they negotiated is better than what they have been doing in the past (nothing!).

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