DOR Director Powell: ‘Large Internet Retailer’ Must Obey SC’s Online Sales Tax Law

Hartley Powell, Director of the SC Department of Revenue, recently told a state Senate committee that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Wayfair decision that states can collect sales tax for online transactions has implications if Amazon claims it can be exempt from paying SC sales tax for its site’s third-party vendor sales. “Obviously, we have a major dispute out there with a large internet retailer,” Powell said. “They’re saying, ‘Look we’re just an internet mall. Walk into our mall, you go buy something from a third-party store, we’re the mall, not the retailer.’ If you read our statute, when you’re a retailer under the definition of a retailer in our statute, you are required to collect and remit sales tax. … I don’t care if you’re selling a good from a third-party guy or you’re selling one out of your stock.”

Dominion Energy Willing to Manage Santee Cooper

The CEO of Virginia-based Dominion Energy wrote a letter to Santee Cooper chief executive Jim Brogdon that offers to take over the management of the state-owned utility for an arrangement that would save electric customers “hundreds of millions of dollars in overhead, fuel and capital related costs.” Dominion is not offering to buy Santee Cooper, and it did not indicate if the offer is contingent on its proposed purchase of SCANA in the wake of the $9 billion V.C. Summer nuclear facility shutdown. Dominion’s letter indicates this is an attempt to prevent Santee Cooper, which has $4 billion in debt from V.C. Summer, from being bought by other utilities who have expressed interest in a buyout.

Salary Study: SC Teacher Paychecks are Weaker than in 2008

Average SC teacher salaries since the Great Recession have climbed to about $51,000, but last year’s salaries were about 7% less adjusted for inflation than in the 2008-09 school year, according to the National Education Association. The Charleston Teacher Alliance advocacy group in 2015 found that three-quarters of their teachers surveyed answered yes to working an extra job to cover expenses in the past 10 years. South Carolina Governors have signed two across-the-board pay raises in recent years (2% under Nikki Haley in 2016, and 1 % under Henry McMaster in 2018), but each teacher’s salary is based on years of experience and the high turnover rate of veteran teachers who have retired and young teachers who leave the profession within their first five years keeps schools dependent on filling classrooms with new hires. While school districts with prosperous tax bases can boost teacher salaries (this year’s beginning teachers in Charleston County Schools earn $38,258), rural districts tend to offer the state-mandated minimum starting pay of $32,000.

SC Will Collect $60M of $1.5B Simpsonville Lottery Jackpot

The state’s expected tax revenue for the $1.5 billion Mega Millions ticket purchased at the Simpsonville KC Mart #7 is $60 million – not counting the additional $10 million to $15 million from the surge in ticket buying before the draw, S.C. lottery officials said. State lawmakers have already been positioning themselves on how to dispense a one-time $177 million budget surplus when they return in January (topics have included tax cuts, pay boosts for state workers, and new voting machines), but now that figure will approach $250 million.

Hold Up, Hoarders: Rock Hill Considers Self-Storage Slowdown

Rock Hill’s City Council passed a  preliminary vote to place a six-month moratorium on new self-storage sites and mini-warehouse businesses, and to tighten rules on where they’ll be permitted in the future. The intention is for the city manager and planning staff time to study zoning changes so that storage sites are “compatible with existing businesses,” according to city attorney Paul Dillingham. A second vote will be required to put the moratorium in place. “I don’t know if this is a fad or what,” Councilman John Black said of the proliferation of storage units inside and outside of Rock Hill, but an industry analyst said it’s a sign of a fast-moving economy. “If the population, community is increasing, thriving and current facilities are 90% occupied or higher, that’s a good sign for self-storage developers, investors,” Mike Blackett of the Self Storage Association told the Fort Mill Times.