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Handling Delinquent Business License Taxes After April 30

The SC Business License Tax Standardization Act, or Act 176, standardized many aspects of the business licensing process, including the statewide due date of April 30. That means that beginning May 1, unpaid business licenses are now overdue. The actions that cities and towns may take for delinquent business license taxes at this point are also governed by the law, as described in SC Code Section 6-1-410

Notice of Assessment
In cases where a business has not paid for its license by May 1, the city or town may serve the business with a notice of assessment, indicating the amount owed for that business type in that jurisdiction. The city can deliver the notice by mail or by personal service — a process server. There is a sample Notice of Assessment form available in the Municipal Association’s Business License Handbook

The business then has the right to make a written request for an adjustment of the assessed amount for a stated reason. For example, the business might contend that the city has classified the business inaccurately, or is using an inaccurate revenue amount in its calculation, and therefore the tax amount should be lower than the given assessment. The law gives the business 30 days to submit this written request from the postmark date of the assessment notice, or from the date of the personal service. 

If the city receives such a request, it must have a meeting time during the next 15 days during which the business may meet with officials to present any information that would support a tax adjustment. After this informal meeting takes place, the city must within the next five days issue a new, final notice of assessment, which includes the adjustment, if any, and a form that the business may use to appeal the final assessment. This notice also must use either mail or personal service. 

The postmark or personal service date of the final assessment starts a new clock, required by the law. The business then has 30 days to complete and submit the appeal form. However, submitting the form requires the business to pay at least 80% of the final assessment to the city. 

Either the city council or else its designated appeals officer or appeals board must then hear the appeal. The hearing must take place within 30 days of the city receiving the appeal form. This is a public hearing and is subject to public hearing requirements such as public notice. After this, the city must issue its decision in writing, and inform the taxpayer of the right to appeal to the Administrative Law Court. In cases where the business wants to appeal the decision to the court, it must submit the appeal within 30 days of the first hearing. 

“Business Licensing Essentials” sessions continue on May 16 
Business license appeals and delinquents will be the subject of the next “Business Licensing Essentials” virtual session of the Municipal Association’s Local Revenue Services, taking place Tuesday, May 16 at 10 a.m. These sessions take place monthly, with the recording available to business licensing officials afterward.

Other upcoming sessions include the June 20 session covering the licensing of coin and amusement devices as well as working with the SC Department of Revenue, the July 18 session covering changes to the business class schedule, and the August 15 session covering Local Revenue Services programs.