Liberty Tax's 'human signs' run afoul of Georgia county ban

Tax season is here, and for Liberty Tax Service stores across the nation, that means dressing employees in patriotic costumes, putting them on the sidewalk and hoping their big smile and friendly wave will pull in potential customers.

Except in Beaufort County, Georgia.

Troy Davenport, owner of the Lady's Island Liberty Tax Service at 10 Sams Point Way, said a county codes enforcement officer has visited his business three times in the last three days and threatened to fine the store $1,200 a day if it puts an employee dressed as the Statue of Liberty back on the sidewalk again.

The officer deemed the employee a "sign with moving parts," which the county prohibits in its code of ordinance.

According to the county code, a sign is "any object, device or structure ... used to identify, advertise, display, direct or attract to" an object, person, institution or organization through its letters, figures, designs, symbols, fixtures, logos or color, among other attributes.

It's frustrating, Davenport said, because just blocks away, in the city of Beaufort, businesses are free to send their costumed employees out to advertise.

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