Zachary is getting ready to step up efforts to collect unpaid occupational license taxes, which all businesses operating in city limits must pay.
Collecting the delinquent funds will bring in extra cash to the city, but the main motivation is to get everyone to follow the law, City Attorney John Hopewell said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Businesses that operate in Zachary’s city limits must have a license and renew it annually. The annual cost of the license is based on the business’s gross receipts; the lowest cost in Zachary is $50 and the highest is $6,200, Hopewell said.
License renewals are due on Jan. 1 of every year and are delinquent after March 1. After that date, businesses are assessed a late fee, the amount of which varies by business.
The city is planning to send letters later this month to businesses that were issued licenses in 2013, 2014 and 2015 but have not renewed them on time, Hopewell said. He is not yet sure how many businesses are delinquent, but “we’ve already uncovered several ongoing concerns, that they didn’t even know they had to have one,” he said.
Some council members and Mayor David Amrhein expressed concern that some businesses are unaware they must have a license.
Hopewell said the city previously has not had a mechanism to notify new and existing business owners that they must obtain and annually renew licenses but will start sending letters in the future to make them aware of the requirements.
“Ignorance to the law is no excuse,” Amrhein said.
Once a delinquent business receives a letter, the owner will have 15 days to pay the tax. Hopewell said the city is prepared to sue those that still don’t pay up.