Occupation Taxes and Regulatory Fees

December 19, 2001

In the 1993 Legislative Session, the Georgia General Assembly distinguished between occupation taxes and regulatory fees. Such terms are briefly described below:

Occupation Taxes
Under O.C.G.A. Section 48-13-6, cities and counties may require that businesses or practitioners of occupations pay an occupation tax, provided that they have a location or office in the city or county.

Local governments may use one or more of the following methods as the basis for taxation; however, different methods may not be used for different classes of businesses.
  • Number of Employees
  • Profitabilty
  • Gross Receipts
  • Flat Fee
Regulatory Fees
Under O.C.G.A. Section 48-13-9, cities and counties are authorized to impose regulatory fees on any business which the local government 'customarily performs investigation or inspection". However, regulatory fees cannot be used to raise revenue, and the fees charged must 'approximate the reasonable cost of the actual regulatory activity performed by the local government." Thus, in addition to occupation taxes, local governments may still access fees for various regulatory services, including building inspections, plumbing inspections, etc., provided that the fee does not exceed the actual cost of the service provided.

Examples of businesses or occupations that may be subject to regulatory fees imposed by local governments include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Building and construction contractors, subcontractors, and workers;
  • Carnivals;
  • Tattoo artists;
  • Pawnbrokers;
  • Food service establishments;
  • Peddlers;
  • Massage parlors;
  • Fortunetellers;
  • Garbage collectors;
  • Burglar and fire alarm installers; and 
  • Locksmiths.
A more detailed list of examples is contained in O.C.G.A. Section 48-13-9(b)(1).