LIQUOR LICENSE REQUIREMENTS AND LINKS  

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Business License Division http://comdev.cobbcountyga.gov/business/privilege.htm

This page is designed to provide general information regarding business license requirements for obtaining a license to sell alcohol in unincorporated Cobb County.

This information is not all-inclusive, nor is it a substitute for legal assistance from a qualified attorney.


General Privilege License Requirements

Download Fingerprint Cards (FD-258) Here
Obtaining a New Privilege License
Basis for business license tax and regulatory fees
Penalties and interest for delinquent new business
Term of License
Renewals
Change of Ownership
Change of Licensee
Change of Location
Closing of Business
License for Business within City Limits
Building Permits
Zoning
Health Department
Trade Name Registration
Taxes - Sales, Federal, State, County, and Alcohol
Incorporating a Business
Other Requirements
Summary of Regulations
Quick Reference Telephone Numbers

 

General Privilege License Requirements

Any individual, partnership, corporation or entity which engages in the sale of alcohol with object of gain, profit, benefit, or advantage in the unincorporated area of Cobb County must obtain a Cobb County Privilege License for each of its locations in Cobb County prior to engaging in these activities.

A Cobb County Business License authorizes business activity only in unincorporated Cobb County, not within city limits. Therefore, mailing addresses are not always indicative of the jurisdiction where licenses should be obtained. Contact the specific city or the Cobb County Business License Division for assistance in determining the jurisdiction where the license should be obtained.

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Obtaining a New Privilege License

To apply for a Cobb County Privilege License obtain an application from the Cobb County Business License Division, 191 Lawrence St., Marietta. Hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Applications are also available for download.

The application and all attachments must be typed or legibly printed in black ink and completed in its entirety. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Any information requested that is not submitted within 30 days will void the application. New applicants, businesses without alcohol sales, or businesses with no alcohol sales for 90 days prior to the date of the application must return an original application, a copy of the application, and a $250 advertising fee in person to the Business License Division. A change of ownership, or change of licensee application must be submitted with a $100 application fee. 

All the above fees are non-refundable and payment must be made by cash, money order, or check made payable to Cobb County Business License Division.

All alcoholic beverage applications must include a $24 check drawn on a business account or money order made payable to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Alcoholic beverage applications must include two fingerprint cards (fingerprint cards may be obtained from the Business License Division.) All stockholders with 20% or more ownership and the licensee must submit a seven-year driver history obtained from a State Patrol post. 

The information required with the application includes such items as personal and financial statements for each licensee, owner, partner and/or stockholder owning shares of 20 percent or more. Also required are signed consent forms for criminal investigations on these individuals and their spouses. The Business License Supervisor reserves the right to request this information on all stockholders and their spouses. Each original application submitted must have two 2"x2" photographs of each licensee and stockholder submitting personal statements. Also, each application must have consent forms for the licensee and spouse, and each stockholder and spouse with more than 20 percent ownership. Licensees, stockholders and their spouses that were not born U.S. citizens must provide I551 cards or certificates of naturalization. Two fingerprint cards must be submitted for the licensee.

Copies of Notes of Indebtedness, incorporation papers, front and back of stock certificates, purchase agreements, leases, contracts, and lease assignments are also required when applicable. If the establishment is applying for a Liquor Pouring License, it must meet the specific requirements established in the Cobb County Code of Ordinance, Section 6-1 and Section 6-130.

For a location that does not currently have an alcoholic beverage license, 12 blue line copies of plats of the proposed site must be completed by a certified surveyor and submitted. Also, page 13 of the Alcoholic Beverage Application and one plat must be signed by the Drafting Section of the County Planning Division indicating the zoning designation. Other requirements include blueprints approved by the Zoning and Development and Inspections Divisions as well as drawings and renderings of the interior of the building which show the seating capacity and kitchen facilities of a new or existing building for liquor pouring establishments. For Liquor Package Applications, drawings or snapshots of the facility and location must be submitted. All Liquor Package establishments must comply with the architectural requirements specified in the Cobb County Code Section 6-129.

Alcoholic Beverage License Surveyors

Attach a certified plat of the proposed premises, prepared by a registered Georgia Land Surveyor, showing the location of all improvements and the distance from any church, school, alcoholic treatment facility, County park or playground, measured as required by the Alcohol Beverage Control Ordinance.

Each application for a location, which has not previously been occupied for any type of business purpose or for which there is to be new construction, must also include a copy of a site plan approved by all departments in the plan review process. This plan may be obtained through the Site Plan Review Section of the Development and Inspections Division of the Community Development Agency, Second Floor, 191 Lawrence St., Marietta. If the establishment is applying for a Sunday Sales Permit, a separate application signed by a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) indicating the percentage of food and alcohol sales expected in a 12-month period must be submitted. The CPA's signature must be notarized.

After the fully-completed application is received by the Business License Division the process for approval takes approximately twelve to sixteen weeks for new applications and two to three weeks for change of licensee or ownership application. Initially, the application is sent to the Cobb County Police Department for criminal history investigation. Upon completion of this investigation by the Police Department for new applicants, advertisements are printed in the Marietta Daily Journal on two consecutive Fridays, and the property is posted with signs notifying the area residents that a privilege license is being considered for that particular location. At the end of this two-week period, the Supervisor of the Business License Division will consider the application's compliance to the Cobb County Code of Ordinance. The applicant or any aggrieved party has the right to appeal the decision of the Business License Supervisor to the License Review Board. The advertising phase of the process does not occur for change of ownership or change of licensee applications. The Business License Supervisor will consider the application after receiving the results of the police investigation. 

New applications where the proposed location is within 600 feet of a church, school, park or library or 300 feet of a private residence must be approved by the License Review Board and Board of Commissioners which will take a minimum of twelve and as much as sixteen weeks. 

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Basis for Business License Tax and Regulatory Fees

The Business License Tax for the operation of a business with a privilege license is contingent on the projected gross revenue from all revenue sources of the business for 12 months. In addition, flat non-prorated regulatory fees for liquor, beer, or wine are as follows:  

Liquor Pouring

$5,000

 

Wine Pouring

$550

Liquor Package

$1,100

 

Wine Package

$550

Beer Pouring

$550

 

Sunday Sales

$550

Beer Package

$550

 

Beer Pub

$3,300

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Sunday Sales Licenses

Sunday sales licenses are issued to establishments where food sales are at least 50 percent of the total sales of food and alcoholic beverages sales, or revenue from the rental of rooms for overnight lodging is a minimum of 50 percent of the revenue.

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Penalties and Interest for Delinquent New Businesses

Penalties will be assessed on any person engaged in a new alcoholic beverage business in Cobb County, who does not obtain a valid business license. Penalties will be assessed at the rate of 10 percent of the license fee for each period of 30 days, or portion thereof, until all fees are paid. Interest will also be assessed at the rate of 1.5 percent per month.

The sale or service of alcoholic beverages without an alcoholic beverage license is a violation of state law and Cobb County Ordinance. 

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Term of License

All licenses are valid for the period January 1 through December 31. New licenses are valid from the date that the business begins in Cobb County until December 31.

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Renewals

Renewal of a business license should be completed prior to December 31. A renewal notice will be sent to the current mailing address on the license. If the mailing address for the business changes without the Business License Division being notified, the business will not receive a renewal notice. However, the business license must be renewed prior to December 31 each year even though a renewal notice was not received. Penalties will be assessed on all delinquent renewals at the rate of 10 percent of the alcoholic beverage license fee for each 30 day period or portion thereof. Interest is assessed at 1.5 percent of the tax per month beginning with the first day delinquent. The Business License fee or Occupational Tax is determined by annual gross receipts.

Support documentation for annual gross receipts must be submitted with the renewal application. Acceptable reports include, but are not limited to, Georgia Sales Tax Returns, in-house sales reports, profit and loss statements, or an affidavit from an accountant. Also, cash register receipts, customer tickets, daily, weekly or monthly sales summaries and any other documentation pertinent to actual sales must be kept for a minimum of three years for audit purposes. For Sunday Sales Permits, a Sunday Sales Application indicating actual food and alcohol sales for the past 12 months must be submitted.

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Change of Ownership

Privilege licenses are not transferable. If the business changes ownership, the purchaser must submit a change of ownership application. The information required includes such items as personal and financial statements for each licensee, owner, partner and/or stockholder owning shares of 20 percent or more. Signed consent forms for criminal investigations on these individuals and their spouses are also required. The Business License Supervisor reserves the right to request this information on all stockholders, partners, owners, licensees and their spouses.

Two 2"x2" photographs of each person submitting a personal statement must accompany each original application submitted. Consent forms must be submitted by stockholders and spouses owning shares of 20 percent or more, as well as licensee and spouse.

Copies of Notes of Indebtedness, incorporation papers, front and back of stock certificates, purchase agreements, leases, contracts, and lease assignments are also required when applicable. If the establishment is applying for a Liquor Pouring License, it must meet the specific requirements established in the Cobb County Code of Ordinance, Section 6-1 and Section 6-130.

A completed application must be returned to the Business License Division prior to assuming ownership of the business. The purchaser must submit an executed bill of sale. A change of ownership is defined as the addition of a partner or stockholder. If a partner or stockholder withdraws, and they are not the current licensee listed on the license and no other changes are made, a new application need not be submitted. However, if the partner, owner, or stockholder who withdraws is the "named licensee" a new licensee is required and a new application must be submitted. On a change of ownership new fees must be paid and are not proratable. The application fee for a change of ownership is $100 -- in addition to a new alcoholic beverage business license fee. Also, a $24 business check or money order made payable to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation must be submitted to the Cobb County Business License Division along with the completed fingerprint cards for the licensee. 

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Change of Licensee


If there is a change of licensee, the business shall submit a new application similar to the one outlined for a change of ownership. The information required includes personal and financial statements for each licensee, owner, partner, and/or stockholder who owns 20 percent or more of company shares. Signed consent forms for criminal investigations on these individuals and their spouses are also required. The Business License Supervisor reserves the right to request this information on all stockholders, partners, owners and their spouses.

Two 2"x2" photographs of each person submitting personal statements must accompany each original application submitted. A new application must be filed whenever the named licensee is no longer in a managing capacity over the licensed location for which they are the named licensee. Managing capacity is defined in Section 6-92 (f) of the Cobb County Code of Ordinance. A $100 application fee will be charged for a change of licensee. In addition, applications must be submitted with a $24 check drawn on a business account or money order made payable to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and completed fingerprint cards for the licensee.

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Change of Location

Licenses are void if persons who are engaged in selling or serving alcohol change business locations, unless a new application, with blueline surveys, lease etc. pertaining to the new location are submitted prior to the move and approval is obtained from the Business License Division Manager. This process takes about one month and requires an advertising fee of $250 if alcohol has not been sold at the new location within 90 days prior to the application. For details, see the requirements for a new location on this page.

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Closing of Business

If a business in Cobb County is terminated, the Business License Division must be notified in writing for the appropriate documentation to be recorded.

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License for Business within City Limits 

A city license may be required if the business is located within the city limits of any city in Cobb County.

The following is a list of the cities in Cobb County which require a business license within the city limits:

Acworth(770) 974-3112
Austell (770) 944-4300
Kennesaw(770) 424-8274
Marietta (770) 794-5520
Powder Springs(770) 943-1666
Smyrna (770) 434-6600 

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Building Permits

If conducting construction-related activities associated with the Privilege License, a building permit may be required. Contact the Cobb County Development and Inspections Division at (770) 528-2061. A business license must also be obtained. Permits are issued by the Permits Section, 191 Lawrence St., first floor, Marietta.

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Zoning

Contact the Cobb County Zoning Division at (770) 528-2004 with questions pertaining to zoning requirements, limitations on activities, and to have necessary plats and applications signed. Cobb County Zoning Division is located in the Cobb County Building, 191 Lawrence St., third floor, Marietta.

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Health Department

All Cobb County businesses providing food services must contact the Environmental Health Division of the Cobb County Health Department at (770) 435-7815 regarding a health certificate. The Environmental Health Division is located at 3830 South Cobb Drive, Suite 102, Smyrna.

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Trade Name Registration

If a business uses or plans to use any name other than the owner's personal name, the Trade Name Registration Act requires that the owner register that name with the Superior Court Clerk's Office. Contact the Superior Court Clerk's Office at (770) 528-1328. 

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Taxes

Sales Taxes
Businesses are required to collect sales taxes on the retail sale of merchandise, the rental of certain items, and for certain services. Contact the Georgia Department of Revenue at (404) 656-4060 or (770) 732-5812 to obtain a sales tax number.

Taxes (Federal)
Businesses are required to obtain a federal employers tax identification number to report income and to submit federal payroll taxes. Federal income tax information and assistance may be obtained by calling (800) 829-1040 or to request forms at (800) 829-3676.

Taxes (State)
Information pertaining to preparation of tax returns for state income taxes may be obtained by calling the Georgia Department of Revenue at (404) 656-4293.

Taxes (County)
All real and personal property taxes owed to Cobb County must be paid prior to the issuance or renewal of a business license. Questions regarding real property taxes or personal property taxes should be directed to the Tax Commissioner's Office at (770) 528-8619.

Alcohol taxes
Additional taxes which are to be paid to the Business License Division include a three percent per drink tax on liquor drinks served at retail pouring establishments, a five percent tax on all liquor sales at retail package stores, and a wholesaler's tax on beer, wine, liquor to be paid by licensed wholesalers.  The three percent drink tax is calculated on "spirituous" liquor sales only and is due by the 20th day of each month for the previous month's sales.

A three percent commission is allowed for returns filed in a timely manner. If the return is not filed by the 20th of each month, interest accrues at the rate of one percent per month. Penalties are calculated at 10 percent per month for negligence or disregard. A 25 percent penalty will be assessed for fraud or intent to evade. Retail package stores are required to file a five percent tax return by the 20th of each month for the previous month's sales. This tax is levied on annual gross sales between $100,000 and $178,000. The total license fee plus gross sales tax upon any single package store will not exceed $5,000 annually.

Failure to submit the completed monthly statement shall subject the retailer to a penalty of $5 per month for each month that no tax is due, and a penalty of 10 percent of the tax due for each month the retailer is delinquent. It is the taxpayer's responsibility to obtain the appropriate form from the Business License Division to submit all business related taxes.

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Incorporating a Business

To form a corporation in the State of Georgia, contact the Secretary of State's Office at (404) 656-2817. It is not necessary to be incorporated to begin business in Cobb County.

If you are incorporated please submit a copy of your certificate of incorporation with the business license application.

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Other Requirements

An application must also be filed with the Georgia Department of Revenue Alcohol Unit to obtain a State Alcoholic Beverage License. However, a state license cannot be processed until the county license has been obtained. Call (770) 732-5812 for more information.

All businesses with a county alcoholic beverage license, pouring and package, are required to pay an annual Federal Special Tax to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Please call (800) 937-8864 or (513) 684-2979 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern time for more information and forms. 

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Summary of Alcoholic Beverage Regulations in Cobb County 
(Unincorporated)

Legal Age to Consume Alcohol - 21
Legal Age to Serve Alcohol - 18
Legal Age to Sell Alcohol - 18 *
* (except in supermarket & drug store where a sales clerk can be sixteen under the supervision of a permitted manager.) 

State Dram Shop Liability Laws - No 
Social Host Liability Laws - No 

Acceptable Forms of Identification 
Any State Driver's License 
Military Identification 
Passport 
State-Issued Identification Card

Unacceptable Forms of ID 
Birth Certificate
Traffic Citation 

Business Hours 
On-premises Establishment
Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. 
Saturday 8 a.m. until 2:55 a.m. Sunday.
Sunday (with Sunday Sales License) 12:30 p.m. until midnight.

Retail Stores Liquor (Off Premises)
Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. until 11:45 p.m. 
Closed Sunday 

Beer and Wine Retail Stores (Off Premises)
Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m., 
Saturday 6 a.m. until midnight. 

ID Confiscation 
Licensee may confiscate false IDs if they report the confiscation to the Cobb County Police. (770) 499-3933

Underage Persons 
1) It is unlawful for anyone under 21 to misrepresent their age to purchase alcohol.
2) It is unlawful for anyone under eighteen to misrepresent their age to gain employment in an establishment that sells alcoholic beverages.
3) It is unlawful to serve or sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of twenty-one.

Admittance of Underage Persons 
Underage persons are authorized in restaurants and off-premises establishments except in liquor package establishments. Persons under twenty-one must be accompanied by parent or guardian in liquor package establishments and in nightclubs. This does not include employees.

Laws Regulating Server Training 
Georgia and Cobb County currently do not regulate server training, nor does the state or Cobb County provide a training program.

Regulation of Non-Alcohol Beer and Wine 
Georgia and Cobb County treat non-alcohol beer and wine the same as any other alcohol beverage. 

License Liability 
The penalties for serving or selling alcohol to a minor or someone who is already intoxicated vary from case to case depending on the number of previous offenses and the circumstances for the citation. Typically, penalties can range from $ 50 - $ 2,500 in fines on the individual violator. Suspension or revocation of the license can also occur to the business. 

Election Day Sales 
Authorized in Cobb County since October 1989. 
See Section 6-223 of the Cobb County Code of Ordinance.

Suspension or Revocation of Alcoholic Beverage License 
When a licensee, employee, or agent of an establishment with an alcoholic beverage license is charged with selling, furnishing, or allowing an underage person to possess an alcoholic beverage, a hearing will be scheduled before the License Review Board and then Board of Commissioners. The alcoholic beverage license may be suspended or revoked.

Suspension or Revocation Of Alcoholic Beverage Work Permit 
When an individual with an alcoholic beverage work permit is charged with selling, furnishing, or allowing an underage person to possess an alcoholic beverage, in addition to criminal charges, a hearing will be scheduled before the License Review Board where the permit may suspended or revoked. 

Summary of Happy Hour Laws for Unincorporated Cobb County 
Prices shall not vary from hour to hour within a single day. Drink prices must be effective for not less than a twenty-four hour period beginning at 12:01 a.m. and ending at midnight.

None of the following is allowed: 
1) Offer or deliver free alcoholic beverages.

2) a. Deliver more than two alcoholic beverages to one person at one time. 
b. Allow any person to possess more than two alcoholic beverages at one time. 

3) Sell, offer, or deliver to any person or group alcoholic beverages for a price less than regularly charged during the same twenty-four hour period. 

4) Sell, offer, or deliver to any person or group, two or more, or unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages during a set period of time at a fixed price. 

5) Sell, offer, or deliver to any person or group, alcoholic beverages, at prices less than those charged the general public. 

6) Sell, offer, or deliver a pitcher or carafe of an alcoholic beverage except to two or more persons at one time. 

7) Increase volume of alcohol contained in a drink without increasing proportionately the price regularly charged during same twenty-four hour period. 

8) Alcoholic beverage contest or contest involving or promoting the drinking of alcoholic beverages or the authorizing of alcoholic beverages as a prize. 

9) Sell, offer, or deliver two alcoholic beverages for the price of one. 

10) Require or encourage the purchase of second or subsequent alcoholic beverages at the same time as another beverage is purchased.

11) Allow alcoholic beverages to be removed from premises. Premises include the entire area under supervision, management or control of licensee. Premises do not include parking lot. Cobb County does not issue permits for businesses to sell alcoholic beverages outside of their premises, i.e. parking lot. 

12) Advertise or promotion of any of the above.

13) No catering or delivery of Alcoholic Beverages is allowed in Cobb County.

For additional information regarding Happy Hour regulations, please see Section 6-236 of the Official Code of Cobb County


Persons required to obtain a Cobb County Alcoholic Beverage Work Permit 

1)All employees of liquor package stores except employees who do not sell alcoholic beverages to customers.

2)All employees of businesses with a pouring license, except employees who do not serve or sell alcohol to customers, such as busboys, dishwashers, hostesses, cashiers, etc. 

3)All managers and security personnel of package or pouring establishments.

4)All employees of convenience stores, except employees who do not sell alcoholic beverages to customers.


The following is prohibited by Cobb County Ordinance: 

1)Anyone under twenty-one to purchase, drink, possess alcoholic beverages.

2)Anyone to maintain place where persons under twenty-one are allowed to possess, consume, or purchase alcoholic beverages. 

3)Unlawful for a parent, or person to buy alcoholic beverages for consumption by underage person or persons, except as provided by
state law. 

All licensees, agents, and employees are REQUIRED to examine ID of patrons to be certain of legal age. 

It is unlawful by Cobb County Code of Ordinance for any person to knowingly allow himself or another person in his employ to furnish alcoholic beverages to anyone under twenty-one.

An open container of an alcoholic beverage is prohibited in a vehicle.

Alcoholic beverages on school or park property is prohibited. 

For additional information or reference, please see Chapter 6 of the Official Code of Cobb County which can be obtained from the Cobb County Clerks Office located at 100 Cherokee Street, Third Floor, Marietta, GA 30090 or Cobb County Web site 

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Quick Reference Telephone List

Cobb County

Building Permits(770) 528-2061
Business License Division(770) 528-8410
Code Enforcement(770) 528-2180
Community Development Director(770) 528-2125
Development & Inspections Division(770) 528-2130
Development & Inspection - Site Plan Review(770) 528-2147
Development & Insp. - Structural Plan Review(770) 528-2071
East Cobb Government Service Center(770) 499-4444
Economic Development Department (770) 528-2607
Fire Marshal(770) 528-8000
Police Department- Alcohol Server Permit(770) 499-3943
Sheriff's Office (770) 499-4600
South Cobb Government Service Center(770) 499-4494
Solicitor's Office- Consumer Fraud(770) 528-8500
Superior Court Clerk-Trade Name Registration(770) 528-1328
Tax Commissioner's Office - Delinquent Tax (770) 528-8619
Tax Commissioner's Office - Tag Office(770) 528-4034
Zoning Division(770) 528-2004

 Cities

Acworth(770) 974-3112
Austell (770) 944-4300
Kennesaw(770) 424-8274
Marietta (770) 794-5520
Powder Springs(770) 943-1666
Smyrna (770) 434-6600 

State of Georgia

Dept. of Human Resources- Child Care License Division (404) 657-5562
Dept. of Labor(770) 528-6100
Dept. of Revenue - Alcohol Unit(770) 732-5812
Dept. of Revenue- Income Taxes(404) 656-4293
Dept. of Revenue- Sales Tax(404) 656-4060
Georgia State Patrol - Driver's License(770) 528-3250
Health Dept.- Environmental Health Division (770) 435-7815
Personal Care Home Licensing(404) 657-4076
Secretary of State- Incorporation(404) 656-2817
State Certifications(912) 207-1300

 Internal Revenue Service

Information (800) 829-1040
Request Forms- Federal ID # (800) 829-3676

Other helpful numbers

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms  Federal Special Tax(800) 937-8864
Better Business Bureau(404) 688-4910
Cobb County Chamber of Commerce(770) 980-2000
Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs (404) 651-8600
Kennesaw State University Small Business Development(770) 423-6450
Public Service Commission(404) 559-6600
Small Business Administration(404) 331-0100

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