Opportunity Zone Program
The Opportunity Zone Program was adopted in 2015 to provide an incentive to businesses and developers to create jobs. 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. This credit is up to $3,500 per job created. In Muscogee County the maximum benefit is $2,500 per job created. New or expanding businesses are eligible to participate.
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 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 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.
Preference is given although is not required to applicants who are able to incorporate one or more of the following revitalization goals:
- Locating in a vacant building;
- Demolishing a pre-existing or abandoned structure;
- Assembling 4 or more tracts of land for one project;
- Creating jobs above the state threshold;
- Creating jobs for residents of the Columbus Business Development Center and surrounding areas
If the business meets the eligibility criteria, then the allowable Job Tax Credit is $2,500 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 years, as long as the jobs are maintained. Therefore, a small business which creates two eligible net new jobs and then maintains those jobs for five full years should be able to claim a $5,000 tax credit each year ($2,500 per job x 2 jobs) for five years, for a total tax credit of $25,000 ($5,000 tax credit x 5 years).
The tax credit has a ten 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.
Other incentives that may be granted will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis by the Planning Department and could include exemption from any or all of the following:
- Building Permit fees
- Sign Permit fees
- Business License Administration fees
- Rezoning fees
- Engineering fees
- Other local fees authorized by the City Council, as applicable
Opportunity ZoneBrouchurefor interested businesses
Application for Opportunity Zone Designation
For more information, please contact the Planning Department or visit the Department of Community Affairs atwww.dca.state.ga.us/economic/developmenttools/programs/opportunityzones.asp