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Proposed Business License Legislation Explained

Business license taxes are common in South Carolina, with about 234 of the 271 total municipalities levying them on businesses that do business in a city or town. State law leaves each municipality free to set rates based on its needs.

Businesses sometimes complain about the hassle of having to comply with multiple business licensing structures across the state, rather than the cost of the business license itself, since the amount is generally a fraction of 1% of the business' gross income.

In order to simplify business licensing statewide, many South Carolina municipalities that require a business license have adopted standardized practices that greatly streamline the process. These include

  • adopting a standard due date of April 30,
  • adopting a standard definition of gross income and a standard 12-month period for calculating gross income,
  • adopting a standard business license ordinance with uniform class designations to categorize businesses by profitability, and
  • being willing to accept a standard business license application form.

This article has been updated to reflect the changes made to H4431 starting with those made by the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee’s Business License Fee Ad Hoc subcommittee on February 13, 2020. This article will continue being updated as the bill moves through the South Carolina General Assembly.

Learn more about business license taxes and find the standardized business license application, model ordinance and business license handbook online. Keep up to date with action on H4431 and other legislation important to cities and towns by reading and subscribing to the From the Dome to Your Home report, delivered weekly by email and also available online.