Aberdeen OKs New Tax Hike on Big Retailers
Big-box retailers and other high-revenue businesses in Aberdeen could pay significantly more taxes next year.
The town’s Board of Commissioners on Thursday unanimously approved an ordinance that will charge businesses a privilege license tax based on a percentage of all gross receipts over $500,000.
All gross receipts over $500,000 will be taxed at a rate of 50 cents per $1,000. Revenue under $500,000 will be subject to a flat fee only.
For example, a retailer with yearly gross receipts of $45 million would be liable for the flat privilege license tax of $50 on its first $500,000 of gross receipts and a gross privilege license tax of $22,500 on the remaining $44.5 million.
Gross receipts will be the amount the business reports on its state income tax return, or on the federal return filed with the state return if the state return does not separately state gross receipts for the most recently completed tax year, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance also doubles the flat fee for all businesses. The prior fees were between $25 and $100.
Aberdeen Town Manager Bill Zell said the privilege license tax will help the town generate more money without raising residential property taxes.
“Aberdeen has been charging them (businesses) the minimum for years,” he said. “This is a revenue source that we have not yet tapped.”
Zell told the board he thought the change would increase the town revenue significantly. He estimated that revenue from the privilige license would triple to about $120,000 a year.
Zell said he didn’t know how many local businesses have annual gross receipts of more than $500,000, but said he suspected some of the big-box retailers, like Walmart, Harris Teeter, PetSmart and Best Buy, do.
The change is effective July 1.
Zell said the town will send notification letters to all businesses beginning next week.
In other business, the town commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a new ordinance regulating the keeping of chickens and roosters.
Commissioner Alan Parker voted against the ordinance because he said it gives amnesty to rooster owners who are violating the old rules, which allow the male birds if the owners meet other requirements.
The new ordinance makes owning roosters illegal but does allow for any current roosters — whether being kept legally or not — to be legal until the bird dies. Once dead, the rooster cannot be replaced. Roosters can live six to eight years.
The commissioners questioned the ability to enforce that portion of the ordinance.
“How do we know if a rooster dies at night, that it isn’t replaced the next morning,” Commissioner Robbie Farrell asked.
Town attorney T.C. Morphis said the ordinance isn’t perfect.
“There are potential enforcement problems with this ordinance,” Morphis said.
The town will not actively seek out violators, but rather investigate only when complaints are filed.
A vote on the ordinance slated for earlier this month was delayed when Parker expressed similar concerns.
A neighborhood dispute last summer brought to light concerns about the ordinance and how the town regulates fowl.
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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