S.C. Chamber of Commerce

COLUMBIA – The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce announced the release of its 2019 Competitiveness Agenda.

As a champion for business in the state, the chamber will push for overhauling the state’s tax structure and will intensify its focus on workforce development, including addressing the teacher shortage crisis.

The chamber board developed the 2019 Competitiveness Agenda through extensive input from the business community as well as the South Carolina Chamber’s partner, the Tax Foundation.

S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts said, “The S.C. Chamber is excited to announce its 2019 Competitiveness Agenda, a set of policy priorities that will move South Carolina forward and create jobs in the state. The focuses this year are two-fold, encompassing both comprehensive tax reform and workforce development.

"There is no question that South Carolina’s tax code needs to be overhauled to make it more competitive, less burdensome, and more equitable for job creators and families. Similarly, our businesses can’t thrive without a well-prepared workforce, so we focus on improving the education pipeline, including combating the teacher shortage. The business community stands ready to roll up its sleeves to work with the General Assembly to achieve these goals this session.”

“The business community is united: it is time for South Carolina to overhaul its broken tax structure, including the unfair property tax system, and we are ready to partner with stakeholders from across the state to get it done,” said Lou Kennedy, S.C. Chamber of Commerce chair and president and CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals. “Tax reform is going to make South Carolina more competitive, and that is a win for families and businesses."

2019 Competitiveness Agenda

Comprehensive Tax Reform

South Carolina’s business tax climate is ranked 35th least competitive in the nation. Taxpayers need a modernized, simplified and more competitive system as proposed in the Chamber’s Road Map for Tax Reform.

1. Simplify and lower the 7 percent personal income tax rate. South Carolina’s top marginal rate is the highest in the Southeast and kicks in at $14,860. In many cases the effective rate is also the highest in the Southeast.

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2. Update and modernize the sales tax base to lower other taxes. South Carolina and Virginia have the narrowest sales tax bases in the Southeast.

3. Make property taxes on commercial, non-owner occupied, and manufacturing property more equitable while addressing education funding disparities. Rural commercial properties face an average effective rate of 2.8 percent, compared to 1.8 percent nationally; urban manufacturing properties in South Carolina face the fifth-highest effective rate in the nation.

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4. Reform the business license tax structure to eliminate double taxation and create a single-payment processor to reduce burdensome compliance costs. This tax is one of the most complex, costly and burdensome taxes for small businesses in South Carolina.

Workforce development

South Carolina’s business community needs a quality and effective workforce system to sustain and enhance business growth and improve the quality of life for South Carolinians.

1. Support efforts to effectively address the teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

2. Facilitate workforce development by making housing in high-growth areas more attainable.

3. Expand career-awareness and training initiatives to fill high-demand jobs.

4. Make it easier for qualified professionals to be credentialed and certified in South Carolina as health care providers, educators and other professions.

Business leaders agree

  • “South Carolina’s business license tax system is one of the most costly and burdensome taxes for small businesses. As a business owner that operates stores across many counties in the state, I can tell you from first-hand experience that South Carolina needs to reform the business license tax system.” -- Steve Spinks, president and CEO of The Spinx Company
  • “Developing the future workforce is critical to the continued growth and success of our company. The BMW Scholars Apprenticeship Program plays a key role in keeping our plant competitive. This program continues to be an excellent example of how collaboration between the business and educational sectors can ensure that advanced manufacturing remains a key driver for our state in years to come. Training programs like this and others should be expanded; manufacturers stand ready to do what it takes to increase awareness and training opportunities across the state.” – Knudt Flor, president and CEO BMW Manufacturing Co.
  • “South Carolina’s current tax structure was built more for the 1950s economy not the economy we live in today. This creates challenges for individual taxpayers and businesses. We have an opportunity to modernize our tax code with a comprehensive and intentional approach using The Road Map for Tax Reform as a guide.” – Chris Barras, executive director of Tax Services at Ernst & Young
  • “Education is the pipeline for tomorrow’s workforce. The business community needs our state’s policy makers to address the persistent issues that exist in the public education system. We have to value our teachers with better pay and working conditions; we must prepare students for the jobs of today with more skills training and apprenticeship opportunities; and we have to update the funding model.” – Kathy Dudley Helms, shareholder with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.

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