Soon there will be 16 counties on board with standardized online filing of PT-100 with SC Department of Revenue and here’s how you can take action to help your community
A message from Ken Newhouse, CPA, CITP, CGMA, USTCP
I’m proud to say SCACPA’s advocacy efforts have made a concrete difference in resolving the decades-long frustrations with how the Business Personal Property Tax (BPP) is collected around the state. I can report that some of our issues on this matter are now resolved, and with your help I think we can iron out what’s remaining.
We have all long recognized that the BPP process is burdensome and confusing. Fortunately, SCACPA’s many years of promoting, supporting and negotiating for reform have led to a single filing form, the PT-100, as being what must be accepted with every county today.
In addition to the adoption of a single form, SCACPA will continue to lobby for a single source to file with the SCDOR and to move counties to agree to this process.
The steps taken by SCACPA advocacy and our partners is important both as an issue for your CPA practice and because it is resulting in a more standardized system that is friendlier for businesses.
The update below is to help get you up to speed on the issue – and tell you how you can help get us to the finish line.
HOW WE GOT HERE
For decades, Business Personal Property Tax compliance required split filings: retail businesses filed property tax returns with the state, all other businesses filed their property tax returns with the county. On top of that, many counties had different types of forms, with some being online, others being electronic, and a handful that would fax you the form each year. When you consider that South Carolina has 46 counties, this mix of processes added up to a confusing burden for both new businesses coming into the state and in-state businesses that wished to expand into other counties.
Positive change began about 10 years ago when a Greenville auditor who was technologically innovative had the foresight to successfully work with the state to have all BPP taxes filed with the South Carolina Department of Revenue. Filing with the DOR as a single point for all counties did not change the amount of the assessment, or even how much a county would receive. It simply allowed for one form and one single place to file. From there, all amounts filed with the SCDOR would be transferred to the county electronically.
Over the past six years, SCACPA supported the Department when it introduced legislation to have all filings completed electronically through the SCDOR website through one common form. The dual aims were to simplify the burden of filing in multiple locations and in a standardized format. This effort met headwinds from associations that represented counties and municipalities.
After four years of testimony and advocacy work, in 2020 we agreed with the counties for a single form – the PT-100 – to be used in filing the BPP and that assessments would be determined by the SCDOR. That bill was signed into law. At that time, only eight counties had signed up to have all filings with SCDOR.
WHERE WE ARE TODAY
As I write this in 2021, we are up to 15 counties complying with single BPP filings with the DOR: Aiken, Anderson, Cherokee, Chester, Colleton, Dorchester, Fairfield, Greenville, Lancaster, Oconee, Pickens (except rent), Saluda, Union, Williamsburg and York. We understand that for next year’s filing, Lexington will join them.
When we hit that milestone of 16 of South Carolina’s 46 counties filing with the SCDOR next year, that means we will have reached one-third of our counties on board with this. Everyone involved in SCACPA advocacy is encouraged that the process is moving forward to have a single filing location.
NEXT STEPS WE CAN TAKE TOGETHER
SCACPA continues to advocate strongly for a single point of electronic filing. While progress is being made, not all parties in the state are in the clear yet.
We are learning that some counties sent their own forms despite the law change, and some counties still have their own online filings. If you have received improper notices of BPP filings, please redact personal information and send them directly to SCACPA CEO Chris Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. The SCDOR requests these so they can work backward in the system and correct any issues.
If you are dealing with a county that has not yet agreed to file all BPP with the SCDOR, send the county the SCDOR’s PT-100 for this year’s filing. This is the area where we especially need your help: We suggest you contact your county council members and contact your state legislator to speed up that county’s agreement to join the growing list of cooperating counties.
When contacting representatives, we strengthen our case to legislators when we tell the story of how far we’ve gotten and how close we are to our intended resolutions. For just about any issue you bring to a representative, you should emphasize that it’s about removing barriers and making our state a better place for businesses. That is certainly the case with BPP. If you’re not sure who to contact, reach out to email@example.com or call 803.791.4181 and we will help you. You can always find your state representatives by entering your address at South Carolina’s online “Find Your Legislators” page.
While we’re on that subject, we encourage all SCACPA Members to cultivate year-round contact with their representatives, especially at the county and municipal level. It’s especially important for you to tell them localized success stories of how what they’re doing is helping your community. You’ll find that legislators are far more willing to hear what you’re saying when every point of contact isn’t about how you need something from them.
Our Governmental Affairs committee continues to collect talking points on this and other important topics for our regularly scheduled meetings with the SCDOR, and they understand BPP is a top-priority discussion. If you have a testimonial about a BPP issue you’ve encountered, please forward it to Chris Jenkins. We understand your confusion and frustration, and we promise we are closing the gaps. The SCACPA Advocacy Team hears you and will continue to fight for clarity on this issue.
Thank you to all those who have contributed to this ongoing success story. SCACPA advocacy is always stronger when we speak with one voice.
WHO TO CALL AT THE SCDOR ABOUT BPP
If you have questions, the direct number to call for BPP MyDORWAR registration is 803.898.7700 and their email address is BPP@dor.sc.gov.
SCDOR Local Government Services is a section of the Property Division that administers property tax exemption reimbursement programs, collects and publishes property tax data and offers instruction and assistance to property tax officials in counties and municipalities across the state. Bill Paradice at 803.898.5207 and William.Paradice@dor.sc.gov can answer questions on homestead exemptions, merchants inventory and property tax relief.
Michelle Mishoe, Manufacturing BPP, can be reached at 803.898.5311 or 803.904.1552.
The BPP Taxes Hotline is 803.898.5222 and the Manufacturing Section Hotline is 803.898.5055.