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April 17, 2002
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Read the first time March 20, 2002.
TO ENACT THE RICHLAND COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS PROPERTY TAX RELIEF ACT BY PROVIDING FOR THE IMPOSITION OF A SPECIAL ONE PERCENT SALES AND USE TAX IN RICHLAND COUNTY FOR NOT MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS WITH THE REVENUE OF THE TAX USED TO DEFRAY GENERAL OBLIGATION DEBT SERVICE OR OTHERWISE DEFRAY THE COSTS OF CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS OF THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS OF RICHLAND COUNTY, TO PROVIDE THAT THE TAX MAY BE IMPOSED ONLY AFTER ITS APPROVAL IN A REFERENDUM HELD IN THE COUNTY, TO PROVIDE FOR THE REFERENDUM, AND TO PROVIDE THAT IF IMPOSED, THE TAX MUST BE COLLECTED BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND REMITTED TO THE RICHLAND COUNTY TREASURER FOR THE RICHLAND COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS, TO PROVIDE THAT THE TAX IS IMPOSED AND IS SUBJECT TO THE SAME EXEMPTIONS AND MAXIMUM TAXES AS PROVIDED IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA SALES TAX ACT EXCEPT FOR AN ADDITIONAL EXEMPTION FOR FOOD ITEMS WHICH LAWFULLY MAY BE PURCHASED WITH UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE FOOD COUPONS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE METHOD OF APPLYING THE REVENUES OF THE TAX TO SCHOOL DISTRICT GENERAL OBLIGATION DEBT SERVICE.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the Richland County School Districts Property Tax Relief Act.
SECTION 2. Subject to the requirements of this act, there may be imposed a one percent sales and use tax within Richland County. The proceeds of the tax must be distributed to the three school districts in Richland County as provided in this act. The boards of trustees of each of the school districts, before the expenditure of the proceeds of the tax authorized by this act, by resolution, must determine the specific purposes for which the proceeds of the tax as distributed must be expended. However, in any case the proceeds only must be applied to (a) reduce ad valorem property taxes imposed to pay debt service on general obligation bonds or (b) otherwise defray the cost of capital improvements within each school district, as determined by resolution of the boards of trustees of the respective school districts.
SECTION 3. (A) The tax authorized by this act may be imposed upon (1) the adoption of an approving resolution by each of the boards of trustees of the three school districts in Richland County and (2) the subsequent approval of the imposition of the tax by referendum open to all qualified electors residing in Richland County. The approving resolutions must specify the maximum time, stated in calendar years, not to exceed twenty years, for which the tax must be imposed; the date upon which the referendum is held, the precincts and polling places for the referendum, and the question to appear on the referendum ballot. The approving resolutions, upon adoption, must be forwarded to the Richland County Registration and Elections Commission.
(B) Upon receipt of approving resolutions from all boards of trustees of Richland County school districts, the commission shall conduct a referendum on the question of imposing the tax in Richland County. Notice of the election must be provided in the manner provided by the general election law and include the question to be voted upon in the referendum. Expenses of the referendum must be paid by the three Richland County school districts, proportionally according to number of persons residing in each school district who are registered to vote in Richland County.
(C) The question to be voted upon in the referendum must read substantially as follows:
"Must a special one percent sales and use tax be imposed in Richland County for not more than ____ years with the revenue of the tax used to pay debt service on general obligation bonds of, or directly to defray the cost of capital improvements for, or both of these purposes, the three school districts in Richland County?
The ballot may contain a short explanation of the question to be voted upon in this referendum.
(E) Upon receipt and certification of the returns of the referendum, the Richland County Registration and Election Commission, by resolution, shall certify the results of the referendum by resolution and within ten days thereafter file the resolution with the Richland County Clerk of Court and with the South Carolina Department of Revenue. The results of the referendum, as declared by resolution of the Richland County Registration and Election Commission and as filed with the clerk of court, is not open to question except by a civil action instituted within twenty days of the filing of the resolution. If a majority of the total votes cast are in favor of imposing the tax, then the tax is imposed as provided in this act; otherwise the tax is not imposed. A referendum on imposition of the tax authorized in this act may not be held more than once in a period of twelve consecutive months.
SECTION 4. (A) If the tax is approved in the referendum, the tax must be imposed beginning upon the first day of the sixth full month following the filing of the declaration of results of the referendum with the Department of Revenue.
(B) The tax terminates upon the earlier of:
(1) the final day of the maximum time specified for the imposition; or
(2) sixty days following the filing with the Department of Revenue of certified copies of resolutions adopted by the boards of trustees of each of the three Richland County school districts each requesting termination of the tax.
SECTION 5. (A) The tax levied pursuant to this act must be administered and collected by the Department of Revenue in the same manner that other sales and use taxes are collected. The department may prescribe the amounts which may be added to the sales price because of the tax.
(B) The tax authorized by this act is in addition to all other local sales and use taxes and applies to the gross proceeds of the sales in Richland County which are subject to the tax imposed by Chapter 36, Title 12 of the 1976 Code and the enforcement provisions of Chapter 54, Title 12 of the 1976 Code. The gross proceeds of the sale of items subject to a maximum tax in Chapter 36 of Title 12 of the 1976 Code are exempt from the tax imposed by this act. The gross proceeds of the sale of food which may lawfully be purchased with United States Department of Agriculture food coupons are exempt from the tax imposed by this act. The tax imposed by this act also applies to tangible personal property subject to the use tax in Article 13, Chapter 36 of Title 12 of the 1976 Code.
(C) Taxpayers required to remit taxes under Article 13, Chapter 36, Title 12 of the 1976 Code shall identify the county in which the tangible personal property purchased at retail is stored, used, or consumed in this State.
(D) Utilities are required to report sales in the county in which consumption of the tangible personal property occurs.
(E) A taxpayer subject to the tax imposed by Section 12-36-920 of the 1976 Code, who owns or manages rental units in more than one county shall separately report in his sales tax return the total gross proceeds from business done in each county.
(F) The gross proceeds of sales of tangible personal property delivered after the imposition date of the tax levied under this act in Richland County, either under the terms of a construction contract executed before the imposition date, or a written bid submitted before the imposition date, culminating in a construction contract entered into before or after the imposition date, are exempt from the special local sales and use tax provided in this section if a verified copy of the contract is filed with the Department of Revenue within six months after the imposition of the special local sales and use tax.
(G) Notwithstanding the imposition date of the special local sales and use tax authorized pursuant to this act, with respect to services that are regularly billed on a monthly basis, the special local sales and use tax is imposed beginning on the first day of the billing period beginning on or after the imposition date.
SECTION 6. (A) The revenues of the sales and use tax collected under this act must be remitted to the State Treasurer and credited to a fund separate and distinct from the general fund of the State. After deducting the amount of refunds made and costs to the Department of Revenue of administering the tax, not to exceed one percent of the revenues, the State Treasurer shall distribute the revenues monthly to the Richland County Treasurer for the benefit of the Richland County school districts in the amounts established in accordance with subsection (B) of this section. The State Treasurer may correct misallocation costs or refunds by adjusting subsequent distributions, but these adjustments must be made in the same fiscal year as the misallocation.
(B) The State Treasurer shall distribute proceeds of the tax, less amounts attributable to refunds and administration as provided in subsection (A) of this section to the Richland County Treasurer and thereafter by the Richland County Treasurer to the school districts of Richland County in direct proportion to the one hundred thirty-five day average daily membership of each of the three school districts for the fiscal year before the year in which a distribution is made, as certified by the State Treasurer upon advice of the State Department of Education. For purposes of this subsection, the one hundred thirty-five day average daily membership excludes any student not residing in Richland County.
(C) Except as provided in Section 7 of this act, withdrawals by the school districts of tax proceeds from the Richland County Treasurer must be made in the same manner as are funds appropriated to the school districts by the State. Pending these withdrawals, taxes must be deposited in accounts for each school district, separate and distinct from accounts established for any other purpose, and investment earnings derived from monies in such an account must be credited to the account. Each school district shall maintain records which demonstrate that tax proceeds are spent only for the purposes as approved by its board of trustees and in accordance with this act.
SECTION 7. If a school district elects that all or a portion of its share of the proceeds of the sales and use tax imposed and collected may be applied to the reduction of property taxes imposed in a given fiscal year to pay debt service on general obligation bonds of that school district, the school district shall notify the Richland County Treasurer in writing no later than July first of that fiscal year of its election and shall specify in the writing the amount of sales and use taxes to be applied to its general obligation bond debt service. The amount specified must not exceed the amount of sales and use tax proceeds held by the Richland County Treasurer for the school district as of July first of the fiscal year. The election is effective only for and apply only to debt service payments to be made in the eighteen-month period following that July first. Elections may be renewed from year to year.
Upon notification by a school district of its election under this section, the Richland County Treasurer shall certify to the Richland County Auditor by August first of that fiscal year the amount of sales and use taxes then held by the Richland County Treasurer for the benefit of the school district and designated by the school district for application to general obligation bond debt service payments. The Richland County Auditor shall reduce the levy of property taxes for the fiscal year required to pay debt service on general obligation bonds of the school district by the amount of sales and use tax revenues certified as held by the Richland County Treasurer and designated by the school district for the purpose. This amount of sales and use taxes thereafter must not be released to the school district, but must be held by the Richland County Treasurer to pay debt service on general obligation bonds. However, any sales and use taxes held by the Richland County Treasurer in excess of the amounts designated by the school district for payment of debt service on general obligation bonds in the eighteen months following the July first of the fiscal year must be expended as directed by the school district in accordance with this act. Any investment earnings derived from the sales and use tax must be expended as directed by the school district in accordance with this act. With respect to a school district situated in more than one county, the requirements of this Section 7 apply with respect to the auditor and treasurer of the county.
SECTION 8. The Department of Revenue, the State Department of Education, and the Richland County Auditor shall furnish data to the State Treasurer and to the school districts receiving tax revenues pursuant to this act for the purpose of calculating distributions and estimating revenues. The information which must be supplied to Richland County school districts upon request includes, but is not limited to, gross receipts, net taxable sales, and tax liability by taxpayers. Information about a specific taxpayer is considered confidential and is governed by the provisions of Section 12-54-240 of the 1976 Code. A person violating this section is subject to the penalties provided in Section 12-54-240 of the 1976 Code.
SECTION 9. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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