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Businesses eligible for tax credits

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Some local businesses are eligible to receive tax credits for new hires made in 2010 and in the future. Businesses that qualify are located within sections of the city designated as Opportunity Zones by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The city of Covington held an informational session Monday morning for those who might be affected or who might want more information.

New or existing businesses that create two or more full-time, permanent jobs within a tax year are eligible to receive credits of up to $3,500 per job, according to Dawn Sturbaum with DCA. The jobs must be at least 35 hours per week and employees must be offered health insurance, although there is no requirement that the employer pay for the insurance. The two jobs may not be filled by a married couple, Sturbaum said. The average wage must be above the lowest average wage in the state -- currently Glascock County at $423 per week or $21,996 per year.

Credit can be claimed by filing a Form IT-CA with the Georgia Corporation Income Tax return and can be applied against corporate income tax liability. Excess credit can be applied against state payroll withholdings. The credits apply to jobs created on or after Jan. 1, 2010.

Portions of the city -- including the downtown area, the Washington Street corridor and the Ga. Highway 36 corridor -- qualified as opportunity zones through the city's Urban Redevelopment Plan. Local governments that undertake redevelopment and revitalization efforts in older commercial and industrial areas can qualify those areas for the tax credits.

The credits are aimed at areas with high poverty, distress and blight. Areas inside or adjacent to Census block groups with at least a 15 percent poverty rate are eligible.

"This is another step in our revitalization efforts," said Mayor Kim Carter, who added that now that the city has made much headway in its housing revitalization efforts, it's time to focus on businesses. "We're trying to help redevelop Covington in areas where it needs a hand up."

Planning Director Randy Vinson will serve as opportunity zone coordinator for Covington. More information and a map of the affected areas in Covington can be found at http://dca.state.ga.us/economic/DevelopmentTools/programs/opportunityZones.asp.