Local lawmaker files bill to stop 'Masters' rental tax in SC

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- The flowers are blooming, temperatures slowly rising and that can only mean one thing: Golf, guests and good times are just days away.

"It's an honor to have the Masters in Augusta, but it's also an honor to have those guests and those golfers come visit North Augusta, too,” said Rep. Bill Hixon of North Augusta.

But Hixon says there's a problem in South Carolina that needs to be fixed. The South Carolina Department of Revenue plans to tax people who rent their homes during Masters week. Hixon says it’s not just for renting this year, but the 7 percent tax would apply for 2011 and 2010, too.

The Masters Housing Bureau of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce first found out about the plan. The SCDOR summoned renters' personal information from them, and they've since complied.

"I described it as fishing,” Hixon said. “They were trying to catch some fish, but what I want to do is cut the line."

Hixon recently dropped a bill (H. 3767) that would toss the tax. The bill would let people rent their homes tax-free for 15 days, just like the IRS lets homeowners do already.

"I took the time, and I have 53 people, 53 House members from all over the state, that signed on my bill,” Hixon said.

Hixon hopes it passes. He says the SCDOR is playing games with important tourism dollars.

"We don't want to lose our tourism in South Carolina and North Augusta, because we're now charging this accommodation’s tax and Georgia's not,” he said.

Hixon hasn't heard from the SCDOR. In the past, he told News 12 that SCDOR might actually send agents here to determine who to tax.

Hixon says his bill will also benefit homeowners in places like Charleston, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, too.

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