After a tip into the News Channel 6 newsroom that some Columbia County lawyers were not paying their occupational tax.
All of the firms we looked at today did pay the tax, but some lawyers admit it would be easy to forget, especially if a lawyer is just starting a new practice.
Local attorney, Kirk Gilliard says, they don't tell you anything like that when you're in law school or practicing for the bar. They don't say hey I'm opening an independent business and I have to have a license to practice in this county, in addition to being admitted to the bar in the state of Georgia."
Lawyers say they study and practice the law for a living, but may still make mistakes. In reality, some may be breaking the law themselves by not paying the business tax.
One issue may be lawyers who transfer from one county to another. Each county sets its own occupational tax that must be paid once a year.
Columbia County Code Enforcement Manager, Dana Rhodes says, "Anyone who provides a service for a fee is required to have an occupational tax."
Columbia County Code Enforcement manager Dana Rhodes says she hasn't heard of lawyers not paying the tax-- however her office will do a random check to make sure no one is breaking the law.
Code Enforcement regularly receives tips from the sheriff's office and competitive businesses that make catching those who don't pay their tax a little bit easier.
Dana Rhodes explains, "We run a list, whether it's from the tax accessor's office, really any department in the county."
Rhodes says the code enforcement office is willing to work with business owners, even handing out warnings before filing any charges. She says if a business becomes a problem, her office can place a lien on the business property.
Rhodes says the bottom line? Visit their office if you're confused or have questions. Most taxes can be paid and taken care of in less than 30 minutes. She says asking questions could prevent major fines, court time and embarrassment down the road. Click here for more information. http://www.columbiacountyga.gov/index.aspx?page=2358