Prattville – A business license amendment proposed by City Councilman Ray Boles failed Tuesday night by a vote of 1-6 (with Boles being the lone affirmative vote), but not before Prattville Mayor Jim Byard Jr. and Boles engaged in a passionate exchange of ideologies on the subject at hand.
The District 6 Councilman owns Prattville Carpet on Cobbs Ford Road in Prattville, and is concerned that small business owners are not being fairly taxed by the City.
Currently, a Prattville business owner is taxed on his gross receipts whether the sale is made in or outside the city of Prattville. This is patently unfair according to Boles, because other cities require a business license when transacting in their jurisdictions. Therefore, gross receipts are taxed twice in some instances for the same business transaction. Boles has labeled this “double taxation.”
Byard, upon completion of his mayor’s report during the council meeting, remarked that his administration would oppose the amendment.
“Business licenses are paid to provide services 24/7; police, fire, roads, and other services that we provide for the businesses that are located in Prattville. The businesses are provided services by the city wherever they are,” Byard said.
Boles began sparring on the issue with Byard who remained at the podium.
“Mr. Mayor, are you for double taxing businesses?” Boles asked.
“Absolutely not,” responded Byard.
“Then, what are we doing here … Item 3 is double taxation,” stated Boles, somewhat impatiently.
“I would disagree with you, Mr. Boles,” Byard said emphatically.
Boles then asked the mayor if he would support his amendment.
“No sir,” replied Byard.
“It’s a double tax,” answered Boles.
“We’re going to have to disagree on that,” Byard said, as he attempted to remain calm.
“Well, maybe one day you will own your own business,” said Boles.
“So, you’re doing this for you?” Byard asked rather vehemently.
“I’m doing this for all business owners,” Boles replied.
Boles then asked Prattville Finance Director Rod Morgan if he could estimate how much it would cost the city if the amendment passed.
“I do not have a figure to base that on,” Morgan replied. But, it has been determined that it is not double taxation. The same transaction happens twice sometimes, too, but that doesn’t mean it is double taxation. You’re being taxed for two different services even if it’s all the same transaction.”
This issue can be brought up again in six or eight months and Boles said after the meeting that he definitely has the backing of all of the small business owners in the area.
“Every single business owner I’ve talked to supports this,” said Boles. “I’m spending $2,000 more than I should be and people can order from us all over the country. If I’m having to pay .025% for a job in Montgomery and then pay that same amount back in Prattville, that’s double taxation … they can say it’s not, but it is double taxation.”
Article by Melissa Parker and Marc Parker
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