The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Hollywood Wins, Fishermen Lose

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We’ve written extensively on how Other Funds revenue – raised from fines and fees – keeps increasing in South Carolina.

The best way to think of fines and fees is that they are really a targeted tax increase.

The Legislature hands out millions in targeted tax cuts every year. For instance, in 2010 the General Assembly gave Hollywood producers a targeted tax cut (proviso 39.15) on aggregate payroll costs and other expenditures.

This tax cut means Hollywood producers pay less than their “fair share” in taxes. What is fair is here defined as what everyone else pays (granted that high taxes are “unfair” for everyone). Thus Hollywood producers get a break from high taxes while ordinary taxpayers are stuck paying the same rate.

More concretely, targeted tax cuts are often paid for through targeted tax increases. The easiest tax increase to pass is one most people don’t notice. A hidden tax – a fine and fee increase.

The General Assembly considered almost 100 separate bills that would have raised fines and fees in 2010. One of the most prominent was S 1340, which passed the General Assembly and was signed by the governor. The law establishes regulations, licensing and fees pertaining to fishing; it also provides for regulations regarding bodies of water.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the new fees created by S 1340:

Section Reason Fee Amount
Section 50‑9‑80 Duplicate License/Permit $3.00
Section 50‑9‑80 Replacement Nongame Fish Tag $1.00/Resident & $5.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑80 Duplicate Antlerless Deer Tag $1.00/Tag
Section 50‑9‑410 Annual Freshwater Commercial Fishing License Resident $50.00
Section 50‑9‑410 Annual Freshwater Commercial Fishing License Nonresident $1000.00
Section 50‑9‑430 Scientific Collection Permit $10.00
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Eel Pot $5.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Fyke Net $10.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Gill Net $5.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Hoop Net $10.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Trap $5.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Tag for Trotline, Not exceeding 50 Hooks $2.50/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Permit for Using 50 Jugs $5.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑9‑610 Permit for Using 50 Set Hooks $5.00/Resident & $50.00/Nonresident
Section 50‑19‑251 Misdemeanor Fine $10.00-$100.00
Section 50‑19‑1190 Misdemeanor Fine $25.00-$100.00

This year, Hollywood won the tax game. Commercial fishermen lost. Next year, the Legislature will choose other winners and losers. But why not instead level the playing field for everyone?

… To read more about what tax increases the General Assembly considered in 2010 and what they might do in 2011, see our 2010 Best/Worst Taxes Chapter.

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Written by Jameson Taylor

November 8, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Taxes

Tagged with ,

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