From Friday through midnight Sunday, South Carolina shoppers will get a break on the state’s 6% sales tax and other local taxes when they buy clothes, footwear, computers and accessories, writing and art supplies, along with a range of other items, and the South Carolina Department of Revenue projects that shoppers will save from $2 million to $3 million during the annual tradition tied to back-to-school spending. Britt Beemer, chairman and founder of Summerville-based America’s Research Group, says spending will rise up to 6% from last year even if shopper levels remain flat because prices for items such as shoes have increased. The National Retail Federation predicts back-to-school shoppers will pay $80.7 billion, down from 2018’s $82.8 billion, for items needed from grade schools to college dorm rooms. South Carolina is among 16 states with tax-free opportunities, which is down from 2010 when 19 states offered the incentive. Neighboring states North Carolina (in 2013) and Georgia (2016) have ceased to hold tax-free weekends. Click here for a list of items eligible for South Carolina’s tax-free weekend purchases.
South Carolina has a $2.17 million share to reimburse approximately 2.4 million residents who had personal data exposed in the Equifax breach. U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said during 2017 congressional testimony that South Carolina ranked sixth-highest among states for percentage of residents who had their names, addresses, birthdays and Social Security Numbers stolen. Claims can be filed at www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com by January, and a court will rule on the final settlement amount in December. The credit-monitoring company agreed on a total settlement of $700 million with state governments, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
New Beaufort County Administrator Ashley Jacobs is getting to work in putting county department budget documents online, noting that the county’s budgeting process “is not very good,” she told the Hilton Head Island Packet. “We should have that. For whatever reason, that process has fallen by the wayside here,” Jacobs said. Oversight of the administrator’s discretionary fund – which is not established by ordinance or listed in online documents – has come under scrutiny because of a lack of transparency over how those funds have been spent over the past four years. In 2014, the county amended its purchasing ordinance so that the administrator does not need council approval for any purchase up to $50,000. Administrators have tapped that fund for purchases including office furniture and more than $9,100 for advertising at golf tournaments. Beaufort County Council members, upon being updated about spending patterns by previous administrators, cut the administrator’s $215,301 contingency account by more than half for fiscal year 2020 and is looking into setting new rules for the fund in 2021.
South Carolina’s Department of Education will purchase 78 school buses that run on propane thanks to a $7.9 million award out of the $9.3 million distributed in the initial round of the state’s share of Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion settlement with the EPA from 2016. The upgrade to South Carolina’s 5,690 school buses will take high-polluting vehicles off state roads and adds to almost 2,200 buses purchased over the past four years, but more than 500 buses built from 1988-1990 will still be in on the roads. A 2007 state law requires the entire school bus fleet to be replaced every 15 years but S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman estimates only one-third of the school bus fleet fits that requirement. The state’s Department of Insurance, which Gov. Henry McMaster named stewards of the settlement in 2017, still has $24 million from the fund to distribute over the coming years.
Amy Urquhart, CPA, the CEO of WebsterRogers and SCACPA Member since 2006, is being honored as the Finance Woman of the Year by South Carolina Business Magazines. She is also a certified financial planner who works from the firm’s statewide headquarters in Florence and is managing partner of the affiliate WebsterRogers Financial Advisors LLC. Urquhart is a founding member of Women in Philanthropy-Eastern Carolina Community Foundation and serves on the McLeod Health Board of Directors. “To be a leader among equals requires the ability to motivate peers while at the same time providing guidance, a balance that Amy strikes regularly,” according to Reid Sherard of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP as his nomination.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“They want to get back at the government, so they will shop during tax-free weekend.”
Britt Beemer, of the Summerville-area retail tracking America’s Research Group, on why high-end shoppers will be more likely to take advantage of this weekend’s sales tax holiday at pricier stores rather than for back-to-school staples.