Thursday, January 28, 2021

Hometown Legislative Action Week Begins Monday

The Municipal Association’s Hometown Legislative Action Day — which fosters relationships between state legislators and municipal governments and calls attention to the issues that matter to cities and towns — ordinarily takes place in a single day. For 2021, however, it’s taking on a format more suitable to the need for virtual gatherings.

Hometown Legislative Action Week, which will unfold across five days of virtual content and valuable insight into the new legislative session. Each day from February 1 to February 5, the Municipal Association will send out videos explaining its new Advocacy Initiatives. The individual videos will be short and suitable for sharing to spark conversations about the issues. 

As the videos launch, those who register for email updates will be the first to get them, so be sure to register to receive the emails here. This event registration is free. 

Here’s the 2021 HLAW schedule (click to enlarge): 

Beyond registering for the 2021 HLAW, there are some other steps city and town officials can take to keep up with what’s happening at the State House: 
  • Subscribe to From the Dome to Your Home, the Association’s weekly legislative report delivered by email every Friday during the session. The report takes a look at what’s happening with the Association’s Advocacy Initiatives as well as any other legislation with an impact on cities and towns. 
  • Listen to the City Quick Connect podcast, where the Association’s advocacy staff discuss the week’s legislative happenings during the session.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Standardizing Business Licenses in 2021

After years of work and discussion about the complexity of collecting the business license tax levied by many cities and towns in South Carolina, the General Assembly passed the SC Business License Tax Standardization Act last September. The new law standardizes many of the elements of administering the tax — elements that were previously decided by each municipality. 

The law requires these standardization measures of cities and towns with the tax by January 1, 2022:
  • License periods beginning May 1 and ending April 30.
  • Calculating the tax based on a business’ gross income for the previous calendar year or its previous fiscal year.
  • Using the law’s definition of gross income. 
  • Accepting a standardized application approved by the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. 
  • Using the law’s standardized class schedule. 
  • Allowing businesses to make license renewal payments through an online payment system hosted by the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. 
  • Using the law’s standardized appeals process. 
  • Setting rates for the 2022 license year — May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023 — to prevent any revenue windfall for the taxing jurisdiction during the first year of compliance. 

During 2021, cities and towns will need to adopt business license ordinances that comply with the new law. The Municipal Association strongly recommends cities and towns repeal their existing ordinances and then replace them the Association’s 2021 model business license ordinance, which will be available soon. 

Achieving compliance with the new law will require a phased approach. Throughout 2021, the Municipal Association’s staff will work to help municipal staff comply with the new requirements. Here are a few resources for getting started: