Legislators eye SC tax reform

January 4, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C.– Act 388 of 2006 has drawn the attention of several members of the South Carolina General Assembly.

One of the topics of the morning roundtable discussion of the 2019 South Carolina Press Association Legislative Workshop for the Media was tax reform, which is where the discussion of Act 388 started among Sens. Thomas Alexander, Sean Bennett, Tom Davis, Greg Hembree and John Matthews and Reps. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Tommy Pope, Murrell Smith and Mike Sottile.

Pope, who serves as president of the House Tax Reform Committee, said it would be impossible to have a discussion about tax reform without discussing the 2006 act. He said the act was difficult to work on because of the complex nature of the effects of action on it. Changing the act could affect county governments, municipalities and even schools.

There is some desire among legislators to address other problems with the educational system before addressing the act.

Davis, in particular, desired to make sure the state was spending its money effectively and efficiently on education.

Cobb-Hunter added that she tried to warn the legislature of the potential negative effects of the act when it was passed but was unsuccessful in persuading her colleagues to vote against the bill.

Act 388 of 2006 caps the ability of counties and municipalities to raise the property millage with a formula based on population growth and the Consumer Price Index throughout the United States.

The act has also drawn criticism from the state’s chamber of commerce. Because of the cap, in order to increase revenue, governments have increasingly taxed non-owner-occupied property, harming small-business growth in the state.

The act was one of two financial constraints at the state level cited by the Florence County Council when Sheriff Kenney Boone asked the council to consider a raise for the employees of the sheriff’s office.

State Reps. Terry Alexander, Phillip Lowe and Robert Williams previously said they support re-examining the bill.

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