UNION COUNTY —A one percent sales and use tax approved by the voters of Union County in a November referendum is a step closer to being implemented.
During its December meeting Tuesday evening, Union County Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution “acknowledging and declaring the results of a referendum held on November 8, 2016, on the question of the imposition of a one percent local option sales and use tax” in Union County. The approval of the resolution confirming the results of the referendum is required by state law and is part of the process of the implementation of its results.
The question of whether or not to levy a one percent sales and use tax had appeared on the ballot in previous years only to be voted down each time. On Nov. 8, however, that string of defeats came to an end when the people of Union County voted yes, approving the levying of the one percent sales and use tax by a margin of 5,897 votes or 53.36 percent to 5,155 votes or 46.64 percent. Seventeen precincts voted yes while five voted no and there was a tie in the remaining precinct.
With the approval of the referendum, the county will begin levying the tax on the first day of May 2017. The ordinance implementing the levy states that revenue generated by the tax will be collected in a Local Sales and Use Tax Fund for the county. The fund will consist of the Property Tax Credit Fund and the County/Municipal Revenue Fund.
The ordinance states that 71 percent of the funds collected will be allocated to the Property Tax Credit Fund and must be used for property tax relief for county taxpayers. The other 29 percent will be allocated to the County/Municipal Revenue Fund and may be used for county/municipal operations.
The SC Department of Revenue estimates that a local option sales and use tax in Union County will generate an estimated $1.2 million within the county. Of that, Union County would receive an estimated $570,840 for property tax relief and an estimated $156,600 for county operations. The county’s municipalities would would receive an estimated $281,160 for property tax relief and an estimated $191,400 for municipal operations
A property owner with a home with an assessed value of $100,000 currently has a tax liability of $862.80. Once the sales and use tax is implemented their property tax liability would be reduced by estimated $69.20 to $793.60.
Union County Council has committed to using the entirety of the county’s share of the revenues generated for property tax relief as well as the elimination of the fees the county implemented to fund the operation of the Union County EMS.
Supervisor Frank Hart said that another benefit of the passage of the sales and use tax is it will enable the county to receive funds from other counties that are also levying a sales and use tax. Hart pointed out that most counties in South Carolina have already adopted a sales and use tax and that state law allows counties that collect more than $5 million through the tax to have part of those revenues withheld for distribution to other counties. He said that the county will received $300,000-500,000 in revenues from other counties.
Hart added that another benefit of the sale and use tax is that people from outside Union County who travel through and/or visit the county will be paying the tax when they shop here generating even more revenue.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.