In 2022 cities and towns that issue business licenses must accept payments made through the online Local Business License Renewal Center, as required by the SC Business License Tax Standardization Act, or Act 176.
This online license renewal center, hosted and managed by the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, is intended to serve as one way to make the licensing process easier for businesses. Business owners will be able to use the system to renew their business licenses in every
municipality and county where they operate, with a single payment all at one time. So far, five municipalities are using the renewal center in a pilot program, and more will begin using the system in the coming months.
After businesses renew their various licenses by making a single payment, the renewal center will remit the entire license payment for each taxing jurisdiction directly to that jurisdiction.
Most of the standardization provisions found in Act 176 have a compliance deadline of January 1, 2022. The law states that once the renewal center is available to cities, towns and counties, they must begin using it. The Municipal Association is helping jurisdictions prepare to use it by the beginning of 2022. In addition to payments made through the renewal center, jurisdictions must still accept business license payments in person, by phone or by mail.
The renewal center will initially be used for the renewal of existing business licenses only. When issuing new licenses, cities and towns must continue to process new business license applications as they do now.
Act 176 also requires all taxing cities and towns to accept the state’s standardized business license application if it is presented to them. The standardized application was developed by the SC Business Licensing Officials Association and is currently accepted by over 100 taxing jurisdictions.
Setting up a renewal center account
The Municipal Association created a simple list of steps to take when complying with Act 176, available online. Setting up the renewal center account is the sixth of seven steps, so it’s important to understand how the system fits into the larger standardization process before getting started.
Once municipalities are ready, they should have their primary business license official contact Fran Adcock, revenue analyst for the Municipal Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 803.933.1201. The staff contact can then create the municipality’s account within the system and begin uploading business license data in the correct format.
“Licensing officials in each municipality will need to complete training to begin using the Local Business License Renewal Center,” Caitlin Cothran, the Municipal Association’s manager for Local Revenue Services, said. “In order to be completely set up and using the system by the beginning of 2022, they will need to submit their data and go through the rebalancing process by October 31.”
For those who are ready to begin using the renewal system, the Municipal Association will set up training opportunities beginning in November.
How businesses use the renewal center
Once the taxing jurisdiction sets up its account, businesses looking to renew their licenses with a city or town can do so. In the online portal, they can establish a business account and select those jurisdictions where they have a license. Businesses can update their information
as needed, report revenue, apply deductions and upload necessary documents. They can also use the system to track renewals and respond to any requests for information from cities and towns.