Some Hilton Head Island leaders opposed to LOST tax - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Some Hilton Head Island leaders opposed to LOST tax


In the Lowcountry, the idea of a local option sales tax, which returns $0.71 of every $1 spent as a property tax credit to taxpayers, is getting some mixed reactions.  

The town of Bluffton, Port Royal and city of Beaufort all support having this penny sales tax known as LOST. 

But some Hilton Head Island leaders disagree.

Some of the Hilton Head Town Council members say the local option sales tax would burden taxpayers more than help them, and they also believe it could affect tourism season.

The Hilton Head Town Council has not formally discussed the proposed LOST tax or capital sales tax, but some do agree it's a regressive approach.  

"The low-income people, the people in marginal situations usually get hit a lot worse than people in upper income brackets," said Hilton Head Island Mayor Pro-Tem Bill Harkins.  

The local option sales tax is currently used in 31 of 46 South Carolina counties.

Under the LOST 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.

"There hasn't been enough discussion about this, and frankly, there hasn't been much discussion as to what the money would be used for," said Harkins who added that adding more taxes could negatively impact tourism season.

"If it's more expensive, tax-wise, to come to Hilton Head versus to go a trip to Florida, then we start to create a problem for ourselves," he said.

Councilman George Williams, who declined to talk on camera, added that Hilton Head Island receives less than what they put in to the state for sales taxes.  

Harkins said they should consider talking with state legislators to restructure the tax codes.

Beaufort City Mayor Billy Keyserling said that won't happen anytime soon.

"If we wait for Columbia to change the rules, it's going to be a long, long wait. It's a grand idea but it's just kicking the can down the road," he said.  

The Beaufort County Council is expected to take the first of three votes on the two sales tax proposals starting next Monday.

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