MYRTLE BEACH (AP) — A new law could mean millions in revenue for the state as well as local governments along the Grand Strand, the heart of South Carolina’s $18 billion tourism industry.
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the law gives municipalities tools to go after people who rent vacation properties but don’t collect accommodations or sales taxes as required by law.
The Fairness in Lodging Act law allows governments to share information with the Department of Revenue on property owners suspected of not collecting taxes and provides warnings on property tax bills. Rental-by-owner websites must also post that rentals include the taxes.
Those who backed he bill in the General Assembly say it could take away the price advantage that property owners who don’t collect the taxes have over rentals companies that do.
“At least we are all playing by the same rules,” said Dennis McElveen, broker in charge at Garden City realty which handles vacation rentals. “It is a huge problem around the state. We’ve got millions of dollars in taxes not being collected.”
Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, says it’s hard to gauge the impact of the law because those who avoid taxes don’t identify themselves.
“We estimate there are several million dollars of taxes owed but not paid,” Dean said. “The Fairness in Lodging Act won’t end tax avoidance, but it will enhance the ability of local and state government to enforce the law and collect taxes owed by commercial property owners.”
The newspaper reported that in recent years more homeowners have started renting their properties to tourists to help cover costs or make extra money.