Township of Bethlehem, PA
Northampton County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 8-9-1976 by Ord. No. 2-76 (Ch. 24, Part 3, of the 1988 Code)]
This article shall be known as the "Business Privilege Tax and Mercantile Tax Ordinance."
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
The following words and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this § 240-19, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
BUSINESS
Any activity carried on or exercised for gain or profit in the Township of Bethlehem, including, but not limited to, the sale of merchandise or other tangible personalty or the performance of services. As to those taxpayers having their principal place of business within the Township of Bethlehem as well as those carried on outside of the Township of Bethlehem. As to those taxpayers who do not have a place of business within the Township of Bethlehem, there shall be included only those activities carried on within the Township of Bethlehem. As to those taxpayers having a place of business other than principal one, within the Township of Bethlehem, business shall include all activities carried on within the Township and those carried on outside the Township attributable to the place of business within the Township.
COLLECTOR
The duly elected Tax Collector of the Township of Bethlehem, Northampton County, Pennsylvania or the deputy tax collector appointed in accordance with Section 22 of the Local Tax Collection Law, 72 P.S. § 5511.22.
[Amended 2-5-2018 by Ord. No. 04-18]
LICENSE YEAR
The calendar year.
PERSON
Any individual, partnership, limited partnership, association, firm or corporation. Whenever used in any clause prescribing or imposing a penalty, the term "person" as applied to associations shall mean the partners or members thereof, and as applied to corporation, the officers thereof.
TAXPAYER
A person subject to the payment of the tax imposed by this article.
TAX YEAR
The calendar year.
TOWNSHIP
The Township of Bethlehem.
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
There is hereby levied for the tax year 1976 and annually thereafter a tax for general revenue purposes on the privilege of doing business as herein defined in the Township of Bethlehem, as follows:
A. 
Rate and basis of tax. The rate of tax on every dollar of the whole or gross volume of business transacted within the territorial limits of the Township of Bethlehem shall be calculated as follows:
(1) 
On receipts attributable to the performance of services the rate shall be 1 1/2 mills or $1.50 per 1,000 of gross volume of business.
(2) 
On receipts attributable to wholesale sales of merchandise the rate shall be 3/4 of one mill or 0.75 per $1,000 of gross volume of business.
(3) 
On receipts attributable to retain sales of merchandise the rate shall be 1 1/2 mills or $1.50 per $1,000 of gross volume of business.
B. 
Computation of volume of business.
(1) 
Every person subject to the payment of the tax hereby imposed who has commenced his business prior to the full calendar year prior to the tax year shall compute his annual estimated gross volume of business upon the actual gross amount of business transacted by him during said immediately preceding calendar year.
(2) 
Every person subject to the payment of the tax hereby imposed who has commenced or who commences his business before the beginning of the tax year but after the beginning of the full calendar year prior to the tax year shall compute his estimated annual gross volume of business for the tax year upon the gross volume of business transacted by him during the prior calendar year, taking the monthly average during said period and multiplying the same by 12. In the event that he shall be in business fewer than 90 days in the prior calendar year, he shall be permitted to use sufficient days in the calendar year in which the tax year begins to equal 90 successive days after commencement of business, to take a monthly average thereon, and to multiply the average by 12.
(3) 
Every person subject to the payment of the tax hereby imposed who has commenced or commences his business subsequent to the beginning of the tax year, if there shall be less than three months from the commencement of his business to the end of the tax year, shall compute his annual gross volume of business upon the actual gross amount of business transacted by him during the tax year; if there shall be more than three months from the commencement of his business to the end of the tax year, he shall compute his estimated gross volume of business for such tax year upon the gross volume of business transacted by him during the period from the commencement of his business to the end of the tax year, taking the monthly average during the first three months of business and multiplying the same by the number of months from the commencement of business to the end of the tax year.
(4) 
Every person subject to the payment of the tax hereby imposed who engages in a business temporary, seasonal, or itinerant by nature, shall compute his estimated gross amount of business to be transacted by him for the period said person engages in such temporary, seasonal or itinerant business within the Township by a method to be determined by the Collector.
(5) 
The Collector is hereby authorized to accept payment under protest of the amount of Business Privilege Tax claimed by the Township in any case where the taxpayer disputes the validity or amount of the Township's claim for tax. If it is thereafter judicially determined by a court of competent jurisdiction that the Township has been overpaid, the amount of the overpayment shall be refunded to the taxpayer. The provisions of this § 240-20 shall be applicable to cases in which the facts are similar to those in a case litigated in a court of competent jurisdiction.
C. 
Persons, business and receipt exempted.
(1) 
Persons and businesses. Persons employed for a wage or salary, nonprofit corporations or associations organized for religious, charitable or education purposes, agencies of the government of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the business of any political subdivision, or of any authority created or organized under and pursuant to any act of assembly are exempt from the provisions of this article.
(2) 
No such tax shall be assessed and collected on a privilege, transaction, subject, or occupation which is subject to a state tax or license fee, and which tax or license fee has been held by the Courts of Pennsylvania to be the basis for exemption from the imposition of a business privilege or mercantile tax by a municipality.
(3) 
Utilities. No such tax shall be assessed and collected on the gross receipts from utility service of any person or company whose rates of service are fixed and regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission; or on any public utility service rendered by any such person or company or on any privilege or transaction involving the rendering of any such public utility service.
(4) 
State tax on tangible property. No such tax shall be assessed and collected on the privilege of employing such tangible property as is subject to a state tax except on sales of admission to places of amusement or on sales or other transfers of title or possession of property.
(5) 
Production and manufacture. No such tax shall be assessed and collected on goods, articles, and products, or on by-products of manufacture, or on minerals, timber, natural resources, and farm products, manufactured, produced, or grown in the Township of Bethlehem, or on the preparation or processing thereof for use or market, or on any privilege, act or transaction related to the business of manufacturing, the production, preparation or processing of minerals, timber and natural resources or farm products, by manufacturers, by producers, and by farmers with respect to the goods, articles and products of their own manufacture, production or growth, or any privilege, act or transaction relating to the business of processing by-products of manufacturer, or on the transportation, loading, unloading or dumping or storage of such goods, articles, products, or by-products.
D. 
Determination of gross or whole volume of business. Gross or whole volume of business upon which the tax hereunder is computed shall include the gross consideration credited or received for or on account of sales made and/or services rendered, subject only to the following allowable deductions and exemptions:
(1) 
The dollar volume of business transacted by wholesale and retail dealers derived from the resale of goods, wares, and merchandise taken by any dealer as trade-in or as part payment for other goods, wares and merchandise, except to the extent that the resale price exceeds the trade-in allowance.
(2) 
Refunds, credits, or allowances given by a taxpayer to a purchase on account of defects in goods, wares or merchandise sold, or on account of goods, wares or merchandise returned.
(3) 
Any commissions paid by a broker to another broker on account of a purchase or sales contract initiated, executed or cleared with such other broker.
(4) 
Bad debts, where the deduction is also taken in the same year for Federal Income Taxation purposes.
(5) 
Taxes collected as agent for the United States of America, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the Township of Bethlehem.
E. 
Partial exemptions. Where gross or whole volume of business in its entirety cannot be subjected to provisions of the Constitution of the United States, or any other provision of law, the Collector under the direction of the Board of Commissioners shall establish rules and regulations and methods of allocation and evaluation so that only that part of the gross or whole volume of business which is properly attributable and allowable to doing business in the Township shall be taxed hereunder.
F. 
Rate when same tax is imposed by two taxing bodies. If any person is liable for the same tax on the same subject imposed under the Local Tax Enabling Act 1965, December 31, Pamphlet Law 1257 and its amendments, to the Township and one or more political subdivisions of the state, then and in that event the tax shall be apportioned by such percentage as may be agreed upon by such political subdivision, but, in no event, shall the combined taxes of both subdivisions exceed a maximum rate of tax as fixed by said Enabling Act permitting the imposition of such taxes.
G. 
Records. The taxpayer, to obtain the foregoing enumerated exclusions and deductions, shall keep books and records of his business so as to show clearly, accurately, and separately the amount of such sales and services as are excluded which he is entitled to deduct from the gross volume of business as hereinbefore provided.
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
A. 
Every return shall be made upon a form furnished by the Collector. Every person making a return shall certify the correctness thereof by affidavit.
B. 
Every person subject to the tax imposed by this article who commenced his business on or before January 1 or the full calendar year prior to the beginning of any tax year shall on or before the first Monday of May of the tax year file with the Collector a return setting forth his name, his business, business address, and such other information as may be necessary in arriving at the actual gross amount of business transacted by him during the preceding calendar year, and the amount of the tax due.
C. 
Every person subject to the tax imposed by this article who has commenced his business less than one full year prior to the beginning of any license year shall on or before the first Monday of May 1977, file with the Collector a return setting forth his name, his business, business address, and such other information as may be necessary in arriving at the actual gross amount of business transacted by him during the first month of business and the amount of the tax due.
D. 
Every person subject to the tax imposed by this article who commences business subsequent to the beginning of any tax year shall within 100 days from the date of commencing such business file a return with the Collector setting forth his name, his business, his business address and such information as may be necessary in arriving at the estimated gross amount of business to be transacted by him as calculated in accordance with § 240-20B(4).
E. 
Any person going out of or ceasing to do business shall, within seven days from the date of ceasing to do business, file a return showing the actual gross volume of business conducted and done by such person during that tax year in which said person ceased doing business, and pay the tax due as computed thereon at the rate herein provided for at the time of filing said return. If such tax has been previously paid based upon estimated gross receipts, the taxpayer shall be entitled to a refund of any excess tax paid for the tax year in which business was terminated.
F. 
Payment of tax and penalties for late payment. The Business Privilege Tax levied pursuant to this article shall be due and payable on the date which the taxpayer is required to file a return as set forth above and if the same is not paid on said date, a penalty at the rate of 6% per annum of the amount of said unpaid tax shall be added, and an additional penalty of 1% of the unpaid tax for each month or fraction thereof during which the tax remains unpaid shall be added and collected.
[Amended 11-15-2010 by Ord. No. 06-10]
G. 
Receipt. The Collector shall, upon payment to him of the Business Privilege Tax, give the person paying the same a receipt therefor.
[Amended 8-15-1988 by Ord. No. 8-88; 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
After the effective date of this article, any person desiring to conduct, or to continue to conduct any business, as herein defined, within the Township of Bethlehem shall file with the Collector an application for a business privilege license and shall pay as established from time to time by resolution for the initial license and for each renewal thereof. The license issued shall be conspicuously posted in the place of business for which said license is issued, and shall remain in effect for the license year or fraction of year for which said license was issued. In cases where more than one place of business is conducted, a separate license shall be issued for each place of business. Any taxpayer who is in default in payment of tax due hereunder shall be refused a license until such tax is paid in full.
[Amended 10-9-1989 by Ord. No. 15-89; 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
A. 
Any person who shall conduct, transact or engage in any of the businesses subject to the tax imposed by this article, without having first secured a business privilege license for the year, or any person who shall fail to file a tax return as required by the provisions of this article, or any person who shall willfully file a false return, shall, upon summary conviction before any Magisterial District Judge, be sentenced to pay a fine not to exceed the sum of $300 for any one offense, recoverable with costs, or imprisonment not exceeding 90 days, if the amount of said fine and costs shall not be paid.
B. 
If, for any reason, the business privilege license application fee is not received from an existing business on or before January 1 of the succeeding license year, a late fee as shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners[1] shall be charged and collected from the delinquent business.[2]
[1]
Editor's Note: Current Fee Schedule is on file in the Township offices.
[2]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
C. 
If a new business in Bethlehem Township begins operating without first making application for business privilege license and paying the application fee, the Township Collector shall charge and collect a late fee as shall be set from time to time by resolution of the Board of Commissioners.[3],[4]
[3]
Editor's Note: Current Fee Schedule is on file in the Township offices.
[4]
Editor's Note: Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 1, General Provisions, Art. I).
Each day on which such person violates this article may be considered as a separate offense and punishable as such as aforeprovided.
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
A. 
The Collector is charged with the duties of collecting and receiving the taxes, fines and penalties imposed by this article. It shall be his duty to keep a record showing the amount received by him from each person paying the tax and the date of such receipt.
B. 
The Collector and his duly appointed deputies under the direction of the Board of Commissioners are hereby empowered with the approval of the Board of Commissioners to prescribe, adopt, and promulgate rules and regulations and enforcement of this article, including provisions for the examination and correction of returns, and payments alleged or found to be incorrect, or as to which an overpayment is claimed or found to have occurred, and charged with enforcing the provisions of this article and any rules and/or regulations promulgated pursuant hereto.
C. 
In the event the person to be assessed neglects or refuses to make a return, then in such case the Collector or his duly appointed deputies shall assess said person or persons on such an amount of whole or gross volume of business as said Collector or his deputies deem reasonable and appropriate. In all cases of assessment, the Collector or his duly appointed deputies shall give the parties assessed a notice in which shall be stated the trade, business, occupation or class, and the amount of the business privilege tax imposed or levied.
D. 
The taxpayer shall maintain such records and books of account as will enable him to make a true and accurate return in accordance with the provisions of this article. Such accounts and records must disclose in detail the gross receipts and other data pertaining to the taxpayer's gross volume of business, and must be sufficiently complete to enable the Collector or his deputies to verify all transactions. The Collector or his deputies are hereby authorized to examine the books, papers, and records of any person or persons subject to or supposed to be subject to the tax imposed by this article, in order to verify the accuracy of the return made, or if no return made, ascertain the tax due.
E. 
Any person aggrieved by any decision of the Collector shall have the right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, as in other cases.
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
Any information gained by the Collector or any other official, agent or employee of the Township as a result of any returns, investigations, hearing, or verifications required or authorized by this article shall be confidential, except in accordance with proper judicial order or as otherwise provided by law.
[Amended 10-16-1995 by Ord. No. 5-95]
A. 
The Collector or his duly appointed deputies shall have the power in the name of the Collector to institute proceedings against any and all persons who violate the provisions of this article.
B. 
If for any reason the tax is not paid when due and suit is brought for the recovery of any such tax, the person liable therefor, shall in addition, be liable for the costs of collection and interest and penalties herein imposed.
A. 
Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to empower the Township to levy and collect the taxes hereby imposed on any person, or any business, or any portion of any business not within the taxing power of the Township under the Constitution of the United States and the laws and Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
B. 
If the tax, or any portion thereof, imposed upon any person under the provisions of this article shall be held by any court of competent power or jurisdiction to be in violation of the Constitution of the United States or of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any other provision of the law, the decisions of the court shall not affect or impair the right to impose the taxes, or the validity of the taxes so imposed upon other persons as herein provided.
C. 
The provisions of this article are severable, and if any of its provisions shall be held illegal, invalid, or unconstitutional, the decision of the court shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions of this article. It is hereby declared to be the intention of the Board of Commissioners of the Township of Bethlehem that this article would have been adopted if such illegal, invalid or unconstitutional provisions had not been included herein.