Columbus repeals business licenses after state mandate

Published 10:41 pm Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Town of Columbus is out approximately $3,500 a year after the state took away municipalities’ ability to charge privilege license taxes, or business licenses.

Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Oct. 15 and approved repealing its business licenses.

Columbus collected the licenses annually, with 112 businesses in 2011, 115 businesses in 2012 and 116 businesses in 2013, according to town records.

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The state’s repeal took effect on July 1, 2015.

Out of North Carolina’s 500 cities, 300 of them collected the privilege taxes.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed the legislation last year repealing local business taxes, while municipalities, particularly large cities, asked for long-term solutions to replace the revenue to avoid raising other taxes or cutting services.

While smaller towns, like Columbus, are not looking at a major revenue loss from the repeal, cities and towns across the state combined could lose more than $62 million in total revenues from the state’s repeal.

McCrory said last year he will work with municipalities and the N.C. General Assembly to seek a long-term resolution, but also said there’s no debate that the privilege tax has been applied inconsistently.

The privilege licenses are paid to towns and cities for the “privilege” of doing business in municipalities. Similar businesses in nearby towns often ended up paying very different business licenses for the same service because of how each city or town calculated its licenses.

The N.C. House originally set a cap of $100 per business per year, but the N.C. Senate’s proposal, which prevailed, repealed the tax altogether as of July 1, 2015.

The City of Saluda is the only other town in Polk County that collects business licenses, which will also have to be repealed.

The Town of Tryon does not collect business licenses.