Thursday, February 20, 2020

Municipal Association of SC Supports New Version of the Business License Bill

The Municipal Association staff has worked with legislators and stakeholders to negotiate on H4431, the business license bill. The Association has been negotiating standardization and is committed to finding a resolution that’s fair for cities and businesses. 

This week, the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee amended the bill. The amendment struck all of the original bill’s existing language and replaced it with standardization language. Language was also added to clarify the circumstances under which some businesses do or do not have to pay the business license tax. Because the amended bill has language which would standardize the business license process, it is now appropriate to support H4431 as amended. Support for the bill could change if any amendments to the bill include language that would harm cities and towns. 

Here are some details of the current amendment: 

  • All business licenses statewide would have the due date of April 30. May 1 would start the license year, and penalties would begin after May 1. 
  • Business license taxes would be calculated based on gross income for either the calendar year or the business’ fiscal year, with some additional rules specific to contractors. The original bill called for a calculation of the tax based on net income, which the Municipal Association opposed. 
  • A standard business license application would be distributed by the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. 
  • Jurisdictions would be required to adopt an updated class schedule every odd year, with the schedule recommended by the Municipal Association of SC and adopted by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. Jurisdictions would have some flexibility to create sub-classes for economic development. 
  • As a payment option for businesses, business license renewals can be made through an online payment portal hosted and managed by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. The entire taxpayer payment would go directly to jurisdictions. Jurisdictions would still be required to accept payments by other means, such as in person, by phone or mail. 

Read a summary of the standardization language included in the amended version of the bill.

Municipal officials should contact their legislators to support H4431 as amended and keep up to date as the legislative session continues. Be sure to read From the Dome to Your Home, the weekly legislative report, and listen to the City Quick Connect podcast. 

In the latest episode of the podcast, the Municipal Association’s Director of Advocacy and Communications Scott Slatton and Manager for Municipal Advocacy Casey Fields discuss many of the specifics of the new version of H4431.