Employers who created jobs within four Liberty Census tracts during 2012 may reap several thousands in annual tax credits, thanks to a military-zone designation from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Liberty County Development Authority Marketing Director Anna Chafin, whose organization helped coordinate three applications in 2012, reported to the Liberty County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday that two additional designations had been approved.
“The military zone gives us an additional tool that we can use as we try to grow new jobs in Liberty County, either in the form or attracting new businesses or encouraging our existing businesses to expand,” Chafin said.
Once awarded, the designations are reviewed annually. But to reap the benefit, businesses must know they lie within the zones.
Chafin and Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Vicki Davis both said they are not able to quantify the number of jobs recently created or businesses currently taking advantage of the credit, but that their intention is to make the opportunity known.
According to the DCA program description, jobs must create at least two new full-time jobs. They are then able to receive the maximum job-tax credit under law, which is $3,500 per job created, and may apply job tax credits against 100 percent of income tax liability and withholding taxes.
The designation allows credit to be claimed by businesses of any nature.
“The designation will provide for the greatest benefits available under law and regulation for the Job Tax Credit Program. These benefits include a tax credit of $3,500 per job for five years as long as the jobs are maintained the use of the credit against 100 percent of corporate income tax liability, with any excess credit then available to utilize against withholding,” the Dec. 31 award letter said.
To qualify for military zone status, areas must be adjacent to a federal military installation “where pervasive poverty is evidenced by 15 percent poverty rate or greater.”
Though awarded in late 2012, the three newer designations took effect Jan. 1, 2012 — meaning employers who have since created eligible positions can reap the credit in their upcoming filings.
Prior to 2012, tract 103, which includes much of Hinesville including parts of Gen. Stewart and Gen. Screven ways and some of Highway 84, was the only zone designated. It received designation in 2006 and has maintained annual status.
In 2012, the Liberty County Board of Commissioners applied for military-zone status for tract 101, which contains the MidCoast Regional Airport.
The Liberty County Development Authority intended to use the tax credit as a tool in recruiting industrial tenants to the area and the designation was awarded in September, Chafin said.
But that move put eligible areas on the radar of the community, and municipal leaders made applying for the status a priority. Now, they’re looking to let existing businesses know about the credit.
Two additional zones were awarded Dec. 31. They are tracts 104 and 102.01.
Tract 104 stretches along the Fort Stewart boundary to Mt. Olivet Church Road, follows the road southwest to Leroy Coffer Highway, then takes Highway 84 east to Holmestown Road. It follows along Holmestown Road then moves west to E.B. Cooper Highway and up Dunlevie Road and is bordered by Shaw Road and South Main Street.
Tract 102.01 is on the northwestern part of the county and includes areas around Gum Branch.
The matter can be confusing because the DCA in 2013 will transition from using 2000 Census data to 2010 Census data, which means some of the tracts received new boundaries and names.
For that reason, Chafin asked the BoC on Tuesday to authorize another application for two tracts that changed numbers. Tract 101 was renamed to 101.01, and tract 102.01 was split into two tracts, and now only one of those tracts — 102.06 — is eligible for 2013 status.
Businesses that lie within tract 102.01 as designated by the 2000 Census data are encouraged to apply for a notice of intent seeking the credit for three additional years, Chafin said. It must be postmarked by Feb. 15.
“Companies that file an NOI are protected from reductions in benefits due to re-ranking (not due to changes in law) for the next three years,” Chafin wrote by email. “I would encourage all companies located in that tract to file an NOI, because hopefully, the 102.06 portion (based on 2010 Census data) of the tract will be designated in 2013, but we may not know that before the deadline for the NOI submittal.”
Copies of the NOI forms and instructions on how to submit them are available at the Liberty County Development Authority, 425 W. Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville. Companies can contact the city of Hinesville’s GIS office at 876-3564 to determine if they are located in Census tract 102.01 (using 2000 Census data).