Columbia County has taken the necessary steps of developing the Columbia County Opportunity Zone to help foster redevelopment of the West Town Shopping Center and the surrounding areas. This designation is designed to encourage business growth and provide assistance to businesses in this area. Below is a summary of the Opportunity Zone Program and qualifications. To download the map of the Columbia County Opportunity Zone click the image below.
The benefit to a business locating within the boundaries of a designated Opportunity Zone, where the business creates eligible net new jobs to Georgia, is the Georgia Job Tax Credit.
Eligible industries: Any lawful business may qualify for eligible net new jobs created at a business location within the boundaries of a designated Opportunity Zone.
Threshold Job Creation: Minimum of two (2) eligible net new jobs within a single tax year, but if only two jobs are created the persons in those jobs cannot be married to each other.
Net new jobs must meet three (3) criteria to be eligible for the Job Tax Credit:
Must be permanent full-time jobs working a minimum of 35 hours per week;
Must pay in excess of the lowest average wage of any county in the state; and
Must be offered health insurance upon employment, although the employer is not required to pay for such insurance.
If the business meets the eligibility criteria, then the allowable Job Tax Credit is $3,500 per eligible net new job.
The job tax credit is first applied against any income tax liability on the Georgia Corporate Income Tax Return, with any excess job tax credit eligible to claim against Georgia payroll withholding taxes if the proper steps are taken with the Department of Revenue. The credit is available to be claimed for five (5) years, as long as the jobs are maintained. Therefore, a small business which creates two (2) eligible net new jobs and then maintains those jobs for five (5) full years should be able to claim a $7,000 tax credit each year ($3,500 per job x 2 jobs) for five years, for a total tax credit of $35,000 ($7,000 tax credit x 5 years).
The tax credit has a ten (10) year carry forward provision from the year in which the jobs are created. The carry forward period is the same for job tax credit claimed against either income taxes or payroll withholding taxes.
There is no limit on the number of jobs that may be claimed under the Program, only that the jobs meet all eligibility requirements under Code and regulation.
An overview of the job tax credit in an Opportunity Zone, including the steps for filing for the job tax credit, can be found here.
To determine if a location is within the boundaries of the West Town Opportunity Zone, contact Robbie Bennett, Executive Director of the Development Authority of Columbia County.
Robert F. Bennett, MPA, CEcD
1000 Business Boulevard
Evans, GA 30809
(O): +1 (706) 312-1371