Georgia names 10 more towns as zones for downtown tax breaks

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs has designated another 10 communities as “rural zones,” making people who invest in designated downtown areas eligible for tax breaks if they create jobs and rehabilitate buildings.

The department announced Wednesday that Colquitt, Donalsonville, Hawkinsville, Hiawassee, Leesburg, Moultrie, Stone Mountain, Thomson, West Point and Woodbury had been added to the list. That brings to 35 the number of communities so designated across the state.

Investors can get state income tax credits of $2,000 per full-time equivalent job per year, up to $40,000 a year or $200,000 over five years, as long as they create the equivalent of two full-time jobs. As long as two jobs are being created, investors can also get a credit of 25% of the purchase price of a building, up to $125,000 over five years, and a rehabilitation credit of up to 30% of the cost of renovating a building, up to $150,000 over three years.

The credits can be carried forward for up to 10 years if the investor’s state income tax liability is too low to use all the credits in the years they are accrued.

Cities and counties with fewer than 15,000 residents can apply to be certified, with the state choosing up to 10 each year. The localities must have a concentration of historic commercial buildings and must prove economic distress based on the local poverty rate, vacancy rates in the downtown area or blight. The locality must submit a feasibility study identifying the area’s business prospects and submit a master plan for investment.

Despite the program being called rural zones, localities in urban areas can apply.