Dorchester County to decide on sales tax - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Dorchester County to decide on sales tax which gives property owners tax relief

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DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC -

It could get more expensive to shop in Dorchester County. On Monday Dorchester County Council members will debate a resolution to increase their sales and use tax by one percent to makeup for a reduction in property tax.

The council had already decided to put the referendum on the November ballot.

The county is only required to return 71 percent of the money from the sales tax to property owners. Up to 21 percent can be used for county operations. At the center of the debate is whether or not council members should return 100 percent through property tax relief. 

According to Councilman Jay Byars, the additional penny tax would be added to all purchases county wide. He said this is an opportunity to take advantage of out of town shoppers who account for 20% of retail sales.

Some council members believe a tax relief will attract new business to the region. 

Opponents argue just the opposite. They believe a tax increase will cripple economic growth. 

In addition, they argue the tax has a "Reverse Robin Hood" effect.  

Opponents said by adding a one percent tax to food purchases and other necessities, the tax burden transfers from Dorchester County residents who own property to  residents who do not own property, which will primarily affect the poor and elderly, who least can afford additional taxes.

Some have even criticized the council for holding a vote during an off year.

The tax relief applies to primary homes, secondary homes and business property.  It would not apply to renters.  

The property tax relief is based on how much is raised. Last year $8.5 million would have been raised through a penny sales tax.

The tax question will show up on the ballot in November for voters to decide. If passed, it would take effect in July 2014.

The council meeting will take place at the county services building, 201 Johnston St., and starts at 7 p.m.

 Additional information can be found here:  http://www.dorchestercounty.net/index.aspx?page=829

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