Business owners, school leaders meet to discuss changing tax cod - - Columbia, South Carolina

Business owners, school leaders meet to discuss changing tax code

South Carolina State House (Source: WIS) South Carolina State House (Source: WIS)

Three hours of public testimony Tuesday left lawmakers with the big task of reforming state tax codes.

The Tax Policy Review Committee said it’s not about finding new money but making policies more fair to taxpayers. State representatives heard from local business owners and school districts protesting Act 388, which was passed 10 years ago.

“What I am asking you, as a small business owner, I’m asking you for some relief we’ve provided to all other aspects of our society,” said Anderson County business owner Rockey Burgess. “And, with current legislations, we’ve not given relief to local folks like myself that are in small business. If we don’t get that relief, I’m telling you, more businesses such as mine, I employ on average 15 to 20 people, we’ll be shutting our doors.”

The law reduces property tax to homeowners in exchange for a higher sales tax by one penny.

Some say it’s a solution to taking the burden of funding schools off homeowners, but some school districts say it cripples their budgets. Others say it’s a business killer.

“It’s been atrocious for local business,” Burgess said. “I’m a small business owner. I don’t have the economic incentives that are offered to your larger companies such as BMW, Boeing, all those others that have came into our state. With that being said, I’m faced with rising taxes.”

One lawmaker suggested adjusting sales tax to two percent and eliminating exemptions.

“Reducing the sales tax and income tax along with removing the exemptions to looking at the whole package,” said Berkeley Rep. Joe Daning, “and, you know, before anything was absolutely done, any exemptions went away, people would have the opportunity to justify it.”

“But the elimination of sales tax exemptions would make it worse than what I’m prepared to sit here and imagine," said Lewis Gossett of the SC Manufacturers’ Alliance.

The Tax Policy Review Committee will take those comments and decide next on legislation to change the tax codes.

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