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Georgia Business Debt Relief: Options to Find Financial Freedom

Running a business in Georgia can be extremely rewarding, but it also comes with financial challenges. Many business owners struggle with overwhelming debt from loans, credit cards, unpaid taxes, and more. Fortunately, there are options in Georgia for finding relief from crippling business debt. This article will explore the various debt relief programs, laws, and resources available to Georgia business owners.

Understanding Business Debt in Georgia

According to a 2022 study, small businesses in Georgia owe an average of $83,000 in debt. The most common sources of debt for Georgia businesses are:

  • Business Loans – Term loans, lines of credit, SBA loans
  • Credit Cards – Rewards cards, business cards, personal cards used for business
  • Unpaid Taxes – Payroll, income, sales taxes
  • Vendor Debt – Outstanding invoices to suppliers and contractors
  • Equipment Financing – Loans and leases for vehicles, machinery, etc.

This debt can become unmanageable for several reasons:

  • High interest rates of 18-30% on credit cards and some loans
  • Income disruption from COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns
  • Supply chain issues driving up costs
  • Seasonal business cycles and cash flow gaps

The first step is to accurately assess the total debt owed and determine the highest priority obligations. Creating a debt repayment plan can help get things under control.

Georgia Business Debt Relief Programs

If a business is struggling to pay back debt, there are several debt relief programs in Georgia to consider:

Debt Management Plans

Non-profit credit counseling agencies like CredAbility and ClearPoint Credit Counseling offer Debt Management Plans (DMPs) in Georgia. They negotiate with creditors to reduce interest rates to around 8%, consolidate debts into one monthly payment, and create a 3-5 year repayment plan. This can provide relief, but does not reduce the total balance owed.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Banks and online lenders offer debt consolidation loans that roll multiple debts into a new loan with lower monthly payments. This can make payments more manageable, but extends the repayment timeline. Interest rates are generally lower than credit cards but higher than non-profit DMPs.

Business Debt Settlement

Debt settlement companies like National Debt Relief negotiate with creditors to settle accounts for less than the full amount owed. This can eliminate debt, but fees are high and it can take 2-3 years. Debt settlement hurts credit scores.

Non-Profit Debt Settlement

Some non-profits like GreenPath offer debt settlement services with lower fees and better terms than for-profit companies. This can provide tax benefits compared to commercial debt settlement.

Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy can eliminate eligible business debts entirely through liquidation or reorganization. However, bankruptcy damages credit, has high legal fees, and can result in business closure.Each of these programs has pros and cons to weigh carefully based on the specific business’ situation. Consulting a credit counselor and attorney is recommended.

Georgia State Laws Regarding Business Debt Relief

Georgia has laws regulating debt adjustment and settlement companies under the Georgia Debt Adjustment Act :

  • Fees cannot exceed 7.5% of monthly payment to creditors
  • Funds must be disbursed to creditors within 30 days
  • Trust accounts must be maintained and audited annually

Violations can result in penalties under the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act. Georgia also prohibits “credit repair” services that make false promises to improve credit reports.Under the Georgia Fair Lending Act, lenders cannot discriminate based on race, national origin, sex, or other protected classes. This law provides recourse for predatory or discriminatory lending practices.

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