Get facts straight on Act 388's impact

info@islandpacket.comMay 7, 2013 

Act 388, in effect since 2007, dictates two sources of money to fund the Beaufort County school district's annual operating budget ($177 million last fiscal year).

About 65 percent comes from property taxes on vehicles, commercial and rental buildings, vacant land, time shares and second homes. Second homes account for less than 40 percent of that, according to tax information from Beaufort County, certainly not the 75 percent cited by those who want to repeal the law.

Despite advertised claims to the contrary, individual property taxes did not increase with Act 388. Search property records at bcgov.net.

About 35 percent comes from the 1 percent state sales tax, added in 2007 and imposed on most retail sales. This tax is collected from resident homeowners, renters and the more than 2.5 million annual visitors, which includes second-home owners.

A large disparity was created in 1975 when the state constitution was changed to assess resident homeowners at 4 percent of the value of their homes and most other property owners at 6 percent. That meant 6 percenters paid 50 percent more than 4 percenters on identical property. What Act 388 did in 2007 was to shift school operations property taxes paid by 4 percenters to the 1 percent sales tax. Unfortunately, 6 percenters still pay school operations taxes and have to pay the 1 percent sales tax during county visits.

There is a separate smaller property tax on all property to repay school district debt. This tax was not affected by Act 388.

Donald Peterson

Hilton Head Island

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