The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

TRAC Accommodations & Hospitality Sub-Committee Meets

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The Taxation Realignment Commission (TRAC) Local Accommodations & Hospitality Tax subcommittee offered the public the opportunity to testify either in favor of or against the recommendations offered to TRAC within the Tourism Industry proposal, Thursday. The majority of the testimony dealt with the issue of the accommodations tax, with less time at the end reserved for testimony on timeshares. Burnie Maybank, TRAC chairman, and Don Weaver were the only subcommittee members in attendance. Maybank briefly outlined some of the proposals to the audience, including: examining the exemptions for admissions fees and having the local hospitality tax reported on the Department of Revenue’s form.

Testimony began on the issue of the accommodations tax. The mayor of Charleston, Joseph Riley, pleaded with the commission to, “as a cardinal principle, leave the local government’s tax base alone,” before offering the recommendation that the Robin Hood provision of the current accommodations tax law be capped.

Others who testified were:

  • A member of the Myrtle Beach City Council who opened his testimony by explaining that the current accommodations tax works well. The redistribution plan that has been submitted, the councilman suggested, would force Myrtle Beach to either cut necessary services for tourists or raise fees on businesses.
  • The mayor and city administrator of the Isle of Palms. Together, they reaffirmed the previous suggestion that the current proposal before TRAC would require cities that rely on tourism for revenue to cut necessary services, which would subsequently decrease a vital sector of their city’s income.
  • Representatives from both Kiawah Island and Mt. Pleasant both acknowledged that the proposal under consideration would cost their cities significant amounts of money and inevitably decrease tourism.

Testimony was briefly accepted on the issue of time shares. Jason Gamel, of the American Resort Development Association, opened by noting that the SC Tourism Alliance—who drafted the proposal currently being considered in cooperation with the SC Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Committee—featured no representatives of the time share industry. Gamel insisted that to have time share residents pay a transient accommodations tax would put SC at a competitive disadvantage to other states. Mary Ann Fox, a North Carolina resident who rents a time share for 2-3 weeks a year in Myrtle Beach, supported the claims made by Gamel. Fox explained that time share owners pay a maintenance fee for their property already and having to pay the transient accommodations tax would make them feel unfairly double-taxed, discouraging potential time share residents. The final testimony on the issue of time shares came from Pat Johnson, a time share board member and resident of Roebuck, who also discouraged the committee from adopting the proposal as recommended by the tourism industry. 

The next full TRAC meeting will be October 22nd, followed by their final meeting on October 28th, four days before the committee must present their final recommendations to the General Assembly.

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Written by SCPC

October 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

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