Beaufort News

School board passes resolution supporting state tax reform

The Beaufort County Board of Education threw its support behind a grassroots effort to reduce and reform the state's tax system Tuesday night.

The board approved a resolution supporting "Reduce Our Awful Tax Rates" and its effort to bring about comprehensive change in the South Carolina's tax laws. The resolution calls for the board to lobby legislators to support ROAR's tax reform ideas.

The organization calls for an end of special sales, property and income tax exemptions, which it estimates deprives the state of about $4- billion in revenue annually. South Carolina has one of the nation's highest sales tax rates but the state manages to exempt more in sales revenue than it actually collects, according to ROAR officials.

School board chairman Fred Washington Jr. said in an interview earlier this month that tax reform could stabilize education funding.

"If we don't have an equitable tax system, we're going to continue to have these oscillating funding streams," he said.

The resolution passed unanimously, 10-0. Board member Steven Morello was absent.

The school board is one of the first in the state to approve such a resolution.

In September, Dorchester School District Two became the first district to pass one. Debbie Elmore, a spokeswoman for the state School Board Association, said Dorchester Two contacted other school boards and asked them to pass a similar measure.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday night how many other boards had done so.

Board vice chairman George Wilson said he supported ROAR's ideas, but added he felt school districts should be exempt from sales taxes. Currently, South Carolina is one of only a handful of states that doesn't exempt schools, he said.

Phyllis White, the district's chief financial officer, estimated the district spends about $1 million a year on sales taxes.

"It makes no sense. It's just ridiculous," Wilson said. "As we do away with those other exemptions, lets put this one in."

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Related content: ROAR website