Richland County Voters Approve Sales Tax Increase

If you shop in Richland County SC, be prepared to pay more sales tax come mid 2013. After previous failed attempts, Richland County voters approved a one cent tax increase earmarked for road and infastructure, fixing the broken bus system, creating bike/pedestrian trails and greenways. The State Paper reported 74,029 people voting for the increase, 64,684 against. (

Acccording to a WLTX interview with Richland County Councilman Kelvin Washington, 40% of the money is will come from people who do not live in the area, citing that people from outside the county who eat and patronize bars will also be paying the tax. (

The tax can last 22 years or until 1.07 BILLION dollars is raised, whichever happens first.

Richland already has a 1-2% hospitality tax on prepared foods and beverages, depending on whether the business is in a town limit or unincorporated area. That means that in Richland County your burger and fries, will be taxed at 9% or 10% on the dollar.

For a family spending $100 per week for groceries in Richland County, the sales tax increase will mean an extra $52 per year out of their pockets.

On big ticket items the immediate impact will be more obvious. Consider a $1500 purchase. At 7% the sales tax is $105; at 8% the sales tax is $120, a difference of $15. Some residents of Richland County may elect to buy those items in Lexington County, especially those who live mid-way between two store offering the same product. Some shoppers who were against the tax increase may elect to buy from Lexington, another county or online as a matter of principle.

Of course, many shoppers won’t think about the bottom line of what they pay, having the attitude that a penny here and a penny there is no big deal, not considering that a penny adds up to dollars.

What started out as an effort to finance the bus system ended up with other perks tacked on to it, possibly, , because a lot of voters weren’t receptive to a tax increase only to be used for the bus system. Or, maybe the numbers waved around, that 40% or more of the money would come from people who don’t live in the area appealed to enough voters to push it through, who knows?

I’ll be spending less money in Richland County when the sales tax increase goes into effect. I suspect, however, that it won’t be long before Lexington County pushes for a tax increase themselves.

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