Beaufort County considers one cent Local Option Sales Tax - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Beaufort County considers one cent Local Option Sales Tax

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Some of the local governments within Beaufort County are considering two penny sales taxes for the November referendum: a capital sales tax and a local option sales tax - or LOST.

The one cent LOST tax is already used in 31 of 46 South Carolina counties but Beaufort County has never passed one. 

A penny may not seem like much, but a one cent local option sales tax could help reduce property taxes by up to 20% and improve quality of life.

Under the local option sales tax, $0.71 of every $1 would go back as a credit on property taxes for taxpayers.

The remaining $0.29 would be split up among the local governments to decide how to spend it every year.

"It's not changing our millage, it's not adjusting our taxes, it's creating a credit that will be year by year based on the amount of revenue generated from the penny sales tax," said Beaufort City Mayor Billy Keyserling said

Keyserling says the LOST tax would apply to homeowners and businesses.

He estimates roughly 50% of the tax would be paid for by tourists.

"In reality, [about] 70 cents towards your tax but only 35 cents of that comes from people in the county," he added.

The towns of Bluffton, Port Royal and city of Beaufort started discussing the idea about a year ago. 

Local leaders met with county council members Tuesday night to discuss it further.

They said the LOST tax would provide another stream of revenue to improve quality of life.  

Lisa Sulka, Town of Bluffton Mayor, said, "It helps us with the sewer additions, the May River, lighting, public safety, it's all across the board." 

The Town of Bluffton estimates the LOST tax would generate about $800,000 annually.

Sulka said they also support the capital sales tax, but it requires more time. 

"Local option is already established, it's shovel ready. You know, we're ready, we're ready to get it on the referendum this year," she added.

Before the local option sales tax ends up on the November referendum, it must pass three readings by the Beaufort County Council.

The County Council is creating a Capital Sales Tax Commission to consider which projects should be included for the capital sales tax.

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