Chattooga County Property Assessors Office

Returns

If this is what you received in the mail, then let me offer my congratulations; because this is the single most confusing piece of correspondence our office has the privilege of putting in your mailbox.

The Department of Revenue fondly refers to this little jewel as the PT-50P ... commonly called a "business return". The theory behind the business return is simple: not only is the real estate (the land and buildings) of a commercial property taxable, so is the business itself.

If you run a business, whether you own or rent a building, or run the business out of your home or shop, the business personal property is taxable separate and apart from the land and buildings. "Personal Property" can be defined as "moveable property". For a business, that would include inventory, office furniture, office equipment, shop equipment, tools, signs, leased equipment and such.

To briefly walk through the main parts of the form:

On PAGE ONE, in the section labeled "TAXPAYER RETURNED VALUE AS OF JAN 1", we need your estimate as to what your property might bring if sold on the open market. Keep in mind this is a total value. So in the first block we need ONE number: your estimate of the total value of all your furniture, fixtures, equipment, etc. The block beneath that is the same, except here we need your estimate of the total value of your INVENTORY (assuming you run the kind of business that maintains an inventory). Again this is a total number. The next block down (Freeport Inventory) is blank ... Chattooga has a freeport exemption, but the percentage value of this exemption has not yet been set. The block beneath that (Other Personal) should have your estimate of value of any personal property your business owns that, in your opinion, was not covered in the earlier categories. Then at TOTALS, please add these figures together and enter the total amount here.

Now a quick jump to PAGE THREE. To the right is a copy of the part of the page we're discussing. This is Schedule A. The values that are derived here will be added to the other section of PAGE ONE titled "INDICATED VALUE FROM SCHEDULES A, B, & C" in the Furniture / Fixtures / Machinery / Equipment section.

On the instruction sheet that came with this return there is a table that gives examples of the types of equipment that fall into each of the 4 groups. Again, we are concerned with total numbers, not individual breakdowns (these will come later). The first column contains the acquistion or purchase price of all items your business owned the previous tax year. If, for example, you have several pieces of office furniture that you purchased new in 2002, that you paid personal property tax on last year; if that were all the items your business owned in Group 2, then you would total the prices you paid for these items and put that number into the first column, under Group 2, at the row for 2002.

To continue this example, let's assume the same business also had 2 computers, a printer, and a copier which were all new in 2000. The total purchase price of these items (and any others that belong to Group 1, and were manufactured in 2000) would be entered into the first column, under Group 1, at the row for 2000. If you disposed of one of the items (say one of the computers) in 2002, then on the same row, in the third column you would enter the price of the disposed computer. The total value of all Group 1 items that were built in 2000 and disposed of (sale, trade, junked, etc) in 2002 would be entered in the third column, under Group 1, in the row for 2000.

If in 2002 you bought an office desk (manufactured in 2000), you would enter the value of this item in the second column under Group 2 at the row for 2000. The value of all Group 2 items that your business has acquired in 2002, that were made or manufactured in 2000, should be totaled and that number entered in the third column, under Group 2, at the row for 2000.

(Boy ... and people thought this was complicated before I tried to explain it)

Anyway, move across the rows, starting with the original sale prices of items already on the tax rolls, adding anything new or used you've added during 2003 (don't include anything you have purchased in 2004 -- this only deals with business personal property owned on January 1, 2004) and subtracting the cost of any item(s) you have disposed of. Mulitiply that figure by the depreciation factor on the pertinent row, and put the result in the last column. Then total that final column and put the sum in the pink box at the bottom right of the page. Also enter this total number on PAGE ONE in the first box under "INDICATED VALUE FROM SCHEDULE A, B, & C".

Now we jump to the top of PAGE FOUR and look at Schedule B - Inventory.

For this section, list the the total value of each category of property in the appropriate blank. The total value of all business merchandise goes into blank 1, the total value of all spare parts (kept for customer service, maintenance, etc) would go into blank 9, etc.

The TOTAL INVENTORY value (the sum of lines 1 through 12) would also be entered on PAGE ONE in the second box under "INDICATED VALUE FROM SCHEDULE A, B & C". It's also important that you read items 1 - 11 on the right side of the page, providing the necessary information when required.

And now finally, the bottom of PAGE FOUR which holds Schedule C - "Construction in Progress". This would mostly concern items that would require assembly before they are usable. We aren't talking about a computer table here, rather things like textile spinning frames and the like, that require some serious "construction" and assembly.

Sections 1 and 2 are important because they help insure that we don't bill your business for property on site that actually belongs to someone else. Simply fill out the section provided (or on a separate sheet) a list of goods you have under consignment (Section 1), what their cost is, and who actually owns them. In Section 2 provide the same information (including the lease or rental amount per month) on equipment you lease or rent.

Sections 3 & 4 are the itemized lists of those items added or deleted from your personal property account since last year. The total value of both should appear on PAGE THREE on Schedule A -- this is the itemized list that is used to document the additions and deletions.

Well, what if I just chunk this thing into the garbage can?!

For several reasons we really wish you wouldn't do that:

  1. Just chunking the return doesn't eliminate the tax account. In fact, we have a flat value we put on accounts that fail to respond. That value will generate a valid, legal, and collectible tax bill in your name (or the name of your business or corporation). A tax lien can be filed against you if you refuse to pay that bill and that could have all kinds adverse effects on your credit and finances. At that point it can be a real mess to straighten out, and it's going to cost you and us a lot of time and trouble, and may cost you a great deal of expense, so please just fill out the form and turn it in.
  2. Even if you sold the all your furniture, equipment, inventory, etc and closed the business, the tax account exists until we can document that you are no longer the owner of it. Everything in reason (1) applies even if you sold or went out of business. One of the prime ways we have of keeping these records straight is this return form. By the simple expedient of filling out this form, you can save yourself, us, and whoever acquired the business or the personal property, a world of time and trouble.

WHEW! I think I'm going to have to go and lie down for a while after that. Anyway, if you, your accountant, or your bookkeeper are still having trouble with this form, then please give us a call at 706.857.0737 or 857.0738, and ask for the utterly charming and helpful Cindy Clark.