SC Supreme Court to hear Penny Tax case

SC Supreme Court to hear Penny Tax case

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A long-simmering tax dispute between Richland County and the South Carolina Department of Revenue is now under consideration by the state's highest court.

Attorneys for both sides argued their positions in a battle that went public after DOR accused county leaders of mishandling millions of dollars generated by the 2012 Penny Sales Tax.

After auditing the tax program, the state agency alleged "civil fraud" and even suggested criminal wrongdoing.

Richland County, however, says DOR has no authority to control the county's spending.

Both county and DOR attorneys underwent sharp questioning from the justices during a nearly hour-long hearing on Wednesday.

"There are a bunch of very smart justices there. They know, they're prepared," James Smith, one of the state agency's attorneys said. "They know in the vast amounts of briefs that get filed where the real issues are, where the fulcrum and tension is on a decision. And they know the difficult part of our case and the difficult part of the county's case."

The Supreme Court case follows a circuit court ruling almost a year ago that ordered DOR to release millions of dollars collected from the tax that the agency threatened to withhold.

It's not clear when the high court will rule.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.