Push For Statewide SC Sales Tax Hike Is Coming

LIBERAL LAWMAKERS TO PUSH MEASURE IN SUPPORT OF “INFRASTRUCTURE” South Carolina raised its sales tax a quarter century ago in the name of improving education … to no avail.  Despite record funding hikes, public schools in the Palmetto State are actually getting worse.  Now legislative leaders, including powerful Senate Finance…


South Carolina raised its sales tax a quarter century ago in the name of improving education … to no avail.  Despite record funding hikes, public schools in the Palmetto State are actually getting worse.  Now legislative leaders, including powerful Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (RINO-Florence), are looking to raise the state sales tax again – this time in the name of improving infrastructure.

A proposal to raise South Carolina’s statewide sales tax by one cent (or by 16.7 percent) will be pushed for during the 2013 session of the S.C. General Assembly, sources tell FITS.  And while we’re not sure which special interests will be orchestrating the lobbying effort in support of the measure just yet, we’re told by lawmakers that the proposal has “powerful support.”

Surprise, surprise … right?

South Carolina has a statewide sales tax of six percent – which is already higher than the sales tax rates in neighboring North Carolina (4.75 percent) and Georgia (4 percent).  Local sales tax rates push the rate even higher (up to 9 percent in parts of Horry County).  Of course lawmakers do provide various special interest exemptions to those who do their bidding – a process that we’ve demonstrated is infinitely corruptible.

The recent history of sales tax hikes in South Carolina has been hugely controversial.  For example federal investigators continue to probe the “Coastal Kickback” – a flagrant “pay-to-play” scam in which a powerful special interest in Myrtle Beach, S.C. funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions to local lawmakers in support of a local sales tax increase.

Of course this scam – as brazen as it was – has absolutely nothing on the shameful fiasco that befell Richland County last week.  In what could easily wind up being the single worst instance of government corruption we’ve ever seen in this state (which trust us … is saying something), county leaders appear to have engaged in a deliberate effort to suppress voter turnout in parts of the county that voted overwhelmingly to oppose a sales tax hike in 2010.

How did they do that?  By breaking a state law regarding the placement of voting machines in precincts – forcing voters in anti-tax districts to endure wait times ranging as long as four to seven hours.  Not surprisingly hundreds – if not thousands of these voters – could not afford to wait that long to vote.

Could we see a repeat of these tactics on a statewide level?

This website has made it clear that our state needs to find ways to lower – not expand – its tax burden.  In fact we’ve argued repeatedly on behalf of income tax relief – a reform which has proven successful when it comes to creating jobs, raising income levels and stimulating economic activity.

Also, as it relates to the “purpose” of this proposed tax hike – our state wouldn’t have an “infrastructure” problem if its leaders would simply stop funneling money into pointless pork projects (here and here).


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Astonished November 12, 2012 at 8:46 am

Any increase for road infrastructure should be funded by the “users” in the form of gasoline tax increases, NOT on general sales taxes! The lion’s share should be used on improving existing roadways NOT building new ones!!

Colascguy November 12, 2012 at 8:49 am

What about electric vehicles. This is going to become more relevant over the next 2 decades that a gasoline tax does not catch all the users.

Colascguy November 12, 2012 at 8:51 am

I am not for any increase. More money is like giving a drug addict free needles. They already mismanage what they get why would you want to give them more.

Astonished November 12, 2012 at 8:55 am

Cola Guy- perhaps that should be an incentive to go electric – let them ride free of the extra penny!!!

Columbia insider November 12, 2012 at 9:20 am

Agreed and SC has one of the lowest gas taxes in the nation.

Smirks November 12, 2012 at 9:49 am

I’d want a competent DoT before I’d suggest raising any tax to fix roadways.

Raspy November 12, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thank You, Smirks!!!! How many kickbacks and other forms of overspending, cronyism, and other waste, account for the cost of maintaining SC’s roads? Not no but FUCK NO, to another penny of sales tax!!!!!!

Tom November 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

I’ve got an idea: how about a user fee for roadways instead of taxes? So that way, only the people that use the roadways will actually pay for it?

*hint: this won’t happen, because corporations (with lobbyists) are the ones who make the most profit out of using the tax-provided roadways.

Colascguy November 12, 2012 at 8:47 am

Thank you for pointing out this is a 16.7 % increase. I wish I could get a 16.7% raise from my boss.

Smirks November 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

You could also say that the cigarette tax increase was an increase of 800%, but packs and cartons didn’t go up 8 times in price, nor are we anywhere near the average taxation placed on cigarettes. 800% just sounds big and scary, so it frames the argument better.

Having to pay an extra 1% on buying goods sure doesn’t sound painful, therefore the 16.7% increase from what it was is touted to make it sound worse. At the end of the day, though, the 16.7% increase is only on what you pay in sales tax, which is a tiny fraction of what you actually spend buying certain things (keep in mind, no sales taxes on groceries, on services, etc.). It is still only 1% extra of what you spend on taxable purchases, $1 for every $100, which translates to a difference between $106 and $107.

That being said, taxes don’t need to be raised. Kill I-73 and other stupid projects and focus DoT on doing what they should be doing. If they did that before begging for revenue, at least they wouldn’t have to beg for as much and at least they’d have a stronger case for asking.

Sambo November 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Then the whores on the Infrastructure Bank Board would not have as much fun. Shoplifting is much more fun than saving. Especially when your victims are the citizens of South Carolina. That is, morons.

Tally Whacker November 12, 2012 at 9:06 am

Who is going to administrate and collect this tax? The Department of Revenue Director and his (incompetent) Deputy and their staff have proven that they can’t even protect our Social Security Numbers!

Isn’t this the week they are supposed to find someone to blame it on? CYA is in full swing!

Smirks November 12, 2012 at 10:17 am

Sales tax is charged and collected by the seller.

Tally Whacker November 12, 2012 at 10:35 am

And the seller must remit sales tax to the DOR. I’ve also heard that the sales tax is also one of the hardest taxes to collect with vendors going out of business all of the time. I saw something a couple of years ago that showed more outstanding taxes in the sales tax area than the other state taxes combined. Most of the liens filed by DOR are for sales tax.

Maybe someone has some stats.

LD November 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

Not only is it the sales tax, but the Local option, Capital Projects, Food & Beverage. Here there is a 10% tax if you buy prepared food.

They need to start over with the sales tax concept. Start at 3% with no tax exempt items except purchase for resale.

Thomas November 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

The albatross on the state’s neck is not tax revenue, not lack of tourism dollars nor a lack of industry. Rather, as long as the state retirement system continues as is, where all that matters to the state gentry is getting family, friends, in-laws on the state retirement system with salaries that provide above average social security benefits, life long health care courtesy of the tax payer, as long as the investment strategy loses money hand over fist as projected, tax hikes disguised as fix-it solutions for all other needs other than what they are intended for, to float the retirement system for a small percentage of people, count me as concerned enough to use the next two election cycles to put in a government that will tackle this problem.

Bizjock November 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

Will the sales tax hike be offset by a income tax cut?

Raspy November 12, 2012 at 11:55 am

Even if it were, only a fool would support it. A few years ago, the dumbass voters of Lexington County voted for a penny sales tax increase because of a promised reduction in property taxes. What we tried to tell the idiots and they wouldn’t believe, was that there was absolutely nothing that would prevent County Council or the school boards from turning right around and jacking our property taxes back up.

Well guess what they did? Our property taxes are back up and we have the penny sales tax, too!

Smirks November 12, 2012 at 4:22 pm

In regards to a penny tax “preventing” property tax hikes, if it ain’t in writing, you ain’t gettin’ it.

Bemused November 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

We need money for roads, especially maintenance and repair of roads. However, it is absurd to give them more money for this purpose when travesties like 526 in Charleston and I-73 in Horry are being pushed to the front of the line, despite low ratings in the objective assessment of state transportation needs. These projects are projected to eat up all the available funds and then some. The first step to better roads is SCDOT Commission reform.

EJB November 12, 2012 at 10:18 am

Bizjock – They do NOT want this to be revenue neutral, they want MORE money, no reduction of income taxes.

Bemused – Don’t forget the $40 mil Jake Knotts wanted for the little two mile (actually I think it’s closer to 1-1/2 miles) extension of the Hardee Expressway. $40M isn’t much compared to the I526 project but it is still NOT needed. I drive by that intersection every day, twice. It would help, even be nice, but by no means necessary.

“The Sate” ran a series of articles on the DOT and the way it lets contracts a couple of years ago and that department needs to be cleaned out top to bottom. They need to change the way they handle contracts and encourage out of area and out of state contractors to bid, and bid for contracts to be done quicker. The work they are doing on Platt Springs Road out to White Knoll High School is taking twice as long as it needs to.

Amused Observer November 12, 2012 at 10:58 am

The proposal will actually cut taxes to business by $600 million. You guys keep missing that fact.

EJB November 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Amused Observer – You must be an insider (Representative or Senator), no one has mention any specifics, only that they want to raise the sales tax. If they are planning something like this don’t you think you guys ought to try telling us, the voters/tax payers, about it? Why are you always so sneaky about these things. Man up put it out there for us to see as you work out your schemes.

The Artist formerly known as ? November 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

“We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It”

It’s the new pol mantra: “Just shut up and vote for it and we’ll tell you all the good stuff about it later once you’ve told us we can do what ever we want.”

? November 12, 2012 at 11:41 am

Sounds like a good way to drive more internet sales to out of state vendors.

CUvinny November 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm

That “loophole” is starting to get closed. States are starting to sue the large online retailers more and more

The Artist formerly known as ? November 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm

You can target Amazon, but the reality is lots of people buys lots of stuff from lots of small internet vendors.

What’s SCDOR gonna do? Sue the whole world?

CUvinny November 12, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Not a fan of the sales tax, to regressive.

Drivin' Miz Lily November 12, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Hey, I have an idea. Let’s get rid of the white guy who ran the elections in Richland County flawlessly for years and appoint the black female daughter of a felon convicted of … wait for it … VOTE FRAUD!!!

We are sure to get a tax increase approved.

Yee Ha!

Too good to be true.


CUvinny November 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm

What does being black or female have to do with what you said?

Jan November 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Now CUvinny, I am sure Drivin Miz Lilly intended no offense. Otherwise he would be just another redneck racist.

oh my November 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Without reading the comments above, as it may have already been mentioned, I would be all for it if it did one thing: eliminate the SC taxes taken out of my paycheck! As one may can tell, I am a fair tax advocate. I’d be willing to pay 15 cents on the dollar for any purchase if it got rid of income taxes…

Booyah November 12, 2012 at 3:12 pm

“What about electric vehicles. This is going to become more relevant over the next 2 decades that a gasoline tax does not catch all the users.”

Not relevant now or for at least fifteen years. Better to encourage their adoption by waiting to tax them.

” I’d be willing to pay 15 cents on the dollar for any purchase if it got rid of income taxes…”

That’s hilarious. After those VAT taxes stack up as items pass through owners you’d be in much deeper shit.

Income taxes aren’t shit. The accumulation of OTHER taxes are the problem and the drag on the economy. The greatest period of US prosperity had much higher marginal tax rates.

same ol' same ol' November 12, 2012 at 9:46 pm

No, no, no. Any time I go to Mickey D’s I already pay 8%. $4.32 for 3 McDoubles and a tea. 8% for 3 fucking burgers and a tea, Bullshit.
Live within your fucking means.
If our education system is fucked up, find a system that works, replicate. There has to be a system out there that works. Don’t throw money at a system that doesn’t work. JFC, there has to be a better way.
Sorry thing is, those who have control over education, roads, infrastructure, DOR, DHEC have so many greedy interests, including our esteemed governess and legislators, nothing will change.
Give me my money is what they say… fuck everyone else, is what they do, but they act like they are all for the public interest.
Problem is, there’s no one with balls big enough to stop it.
So, it continues, we commoners just have to do the best we can. Can’t vote the fuckers out, that’s been proven time and again.

Poppopgeo November 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

If SC starts raising the sales tax and other taxes I and many other people will do much of their shopping in Georgia and other states especially for big ticket items.

Peter O November 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

I’m sorry, but I’m not buying this. Does anybody really think that the state’s Republican-controlled legislature and governor are going to increase tax rates?

It’s much more likely they’ll elimate some exemptions, if they do anything.


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