Luke Rankin Myrtle Beach Senator Introduced This Tax Extension.
Carolina Forest residents are paying this $300 million tourist tax at businesses inside Carolina Forest. Yet, residents get no real estate tax relief.
A bill introduced by District 33 Senator Luke Rankin this past February 25th, disproportionately hurts residents of the Carolina Forest community. The bill is locally known as the 1% tourist tax. The tax, by law, should only be collected on purchased items inside the city limits of Myrtle Beach. In exchange a select few property owners within the city limits of Myrtle Beach are given an average $500 to $600 annual real estate tax credit on their homes.
MyrtleBeachSC.com has learned, however, that many corporate restaurants and retail businesses in the Carolina Forest community are also charging this tax. Carolina Forest has a Myrtle Beach address. The neighborhood is outside the city limits of Myrtle Beach, however.
Most retail and restaurant chains work on mandates from their corporate offices. These offices are generally located in another state. So as to be certain they are compliant, the chain operators simply look up existing taxes in that city by name and apply those.
Unfortunately, Carolina Forest residents are paying this $300 million tourist tax with no real estate tax benefit.
We reached out to all of Myrtle Beach City Council, Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Mayor John Rhodes, and Senator Luke Rankin for their response to this new discovery.
Senator Rankin was the only to respond. He said, “I am on the record supporting the right of taxpayers to vote in a referendum on any tax increase. However, I am opposed to terminating property tax relief for the taxpayers of “Horry County” while the idea of a referendum on the tax is being debated.”
In his statement, Senator Rankin’s remarks appeared unrelated to several facts on the ground.
1. Only select city residents inside the city of Myrtle Beach get any property tax relief. Only city residents of primary homes in Myrtle Beach get this tax benefit. Yet, because of corporate retail policy, his new proposal taxes Carolina Forest residents in their own neighborhoods. Carolina Forest residents are taxed at stores in their own neighborhoods and they get NO property tax benefits at all.
2. The current tourist tax law was not set to expire until 2019. The tax could have been debated for 3 more years with no impact on city of Myrtle Beach homeowners.
3. Had the referendum vote been Senator Rankin’s preferred option, he could have written the law to demand a voter referendum only.
The way the legislation now stands, a simple 2/3rds majority vote by Myrtle Beach city council makes the bill law.
Neither Chamber president Brad Dean nor anyone from Myrtle Beach city government reached out to us for a response.
Scott Pyle, a candidate running for Senate District 33, reached out to us saying he believed local residents should have the exclusive right to vote on any tax increases. He also believed that Carolina Forest residents should not be charged this tax in their own neighborhoods.
The primary vote for District 33 is tomorrow, June 14th. District 33 candidates are Scott Pyle and Luke Rankin.
Update: With the help of a powerful group of insiders, and a low voter turnout of just over 10%, Luke Rankin won the June 14th primary.
RELATED FACTS FOR CONSIDERATION:
The average resident in Carolina Forest makes less than $40,000 annually.
HOWEVER: The 990 tax forms show Brad Dean’s salary increases over the years since this tax was first implemented. For example, in 2008 he was making $134,765 to run the chamber. He got a salary bump to $160,988 the following year and then — after the Tourist Tax passed — his pay soared to $285,217. That was a whopping 77.2 percent raise!His salary continues to increase with each year:2011 — $297,7532012 — $353,1382013 — $404,009The powers that be were getting a little embarrassed by all those pay raises by 2014, so they split his salary between the chamber and the Myrtle Beach Commerce Center, the chamber’s for-profit advertising machine. In 2014, Brad made $309,342 from the chamber. We are not sure what he got from the commerce center because their tax filings aren’t public.Bottom line, you could say his pay more than tripled in the years after the tax was passed.