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Standardizing Business License Dates and Applications

Starting January 1, 2022, Act 176, known as the SC Business License Tax Standardization Act, will require city, town and county governments that levy a business license tax to all use the same payment due date and accept a standard business license application.

Each jurisdiction will be required to use the standard business license tax payment due date of April 30. Beginning each May 1, jurisdictions may assess penalties for those businesses that missed the April 30 deadline. The law allows each city, town or county to set the amount of a late penalty, if the local government has one.

Lawmakers included the standard due date within Act 176 to create an easier process for businesses to pay their license taxes to all of the jurisdictions where they work within the state. Previously, businesses had to keep track of business license due dates set by taxing jurisdictions that fell throughout the year, leading to confusion and missed payments.
Along with the standard due dates, Act 176 requires that all taxing jurisdictions accept a standard business license application starting January 1, 2022.

Developed by the SC Business Licensing Officials Association in 2014, the standard business license application allows businesses to use the same form anywhere they do business in the state. When the General Assembly enacted Act 176 in 2020, more than 100 jurisdictions were already accepting the standard business license application.

Having been developed by business licensing officials, the standard application contains all of the information any city or town needs to help a business start operating in its jurisdiction.

The standard application saves businesses time when they start to operate in a city, town or county. Rather than complete a unique business license application for every city or town, business owners may fill in their business’s information on the standard application, duplicate the application and then fill in the job-specific information for the cities or towns as they work across the state.

Find Guidance on Business License Standardization
No matter what business license actions municipalities have taken in recent years, Act 176 has created the need for every city and town to take new action to comply with the law in 2021. The Municipal Association is available to assist anyone that needs help in complying with this process. 

The standardization webpage, explains the seven action steps, including converting to the standard license year, managing business license data and rebalancing rates, using the standard class schedule, adopting the model ordinance, and setting up an account for the online business licensing portal. The page has resources to help cities and towns communicate with stakeholders, such as businesses, business licensing staff, elected officials and media contacts about the changes. 

Each city and town with business licenses has designated a Municipal Association staff member to serve as a standardization liaison. The liaisons’ contact information is available on the webpage. The page also offers a collection of articles and podcasts to help local officials better understand the standardization process.