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Challenge:

Businesses locate in and seek to do business within cities because of the unique ways urban and suburban settings support commercial activity. This commercial activity is supported by city services including police services, fire services, zoning, street lights and sidewalks that can't be paid for on an individual usage basis or billed based on consumption.

South Carolina municipalities desire to provide the services upon which businesses rely, and do so in a way that makes fiscal sense for their local community without constituting an unreasonable burden upon businesses.

Many businesses that operate within municipalities understand business license tax revenue helps pay for the services they need, but they also desire a streamlined business license process that is less cumbersome and more uniform across the state.

Solution:

For years, the Association has provided cities with a model business license ordinance that establishes a common rate structure based on the North American Industrial Classification System. The Business License Handbook outlines proper application and collection of the tax. City business licensing officials receive substantial training from the Business Licensing Officials Association.

In 2014, the Association established a standardized business license application specifically tailored to the needs of transient businesses (those that do work in multiple jurisdictions).

In 2017, the Association began exploring technological solutions that, if implemented, would significantly simplify the business license tax payment process across the state to the benefit of businesses and local governments. The benefits that will come from these technology-enabled solutions will not only ease the process-related burdens on transient businesses, but also will not harm or inconvenience larger or single-location businesses. As well, these process enhancements will result in no negative impact on local government revenue or local control of the tax collection process.