NTU Encourages Opposition to Tax Increases in South Carolina Roads Plan

Dear Members of the South Carolina General Assembly,

On behalf of the members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I strongly encourage you to oppose H.3579. If enacted in its current form, the bill would institute numerous tax and fee hikes to supposedly pay for road repairs. Specifically, the bill would increase the gas tax by 12 cents, phased in over a three year period. After the 12-cent increase, the gas tax would increase yearly based on the average inflation over the last 10 years according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), with a maximum increase of two cents per year. In addition, the bill would lift the cap on motor vehicle sales tax from $300 to $600. Likewise, the bill would raise or institute a host of additional fees, including doubling the driver’s license issuance fee and imposing new fees on hybrid vehicles. It is estimated that the bill would raise taxes and fees by about $800 million a year once fully implemented. While most South Carolinians would acknowledge that the roads in South Carolina are in deplorable condition, handing a huge bill to taxpayers and failing to address a broken and unaccountable system is the wrong solution.

Unlike the plan Governor Haley laid out in her State of the State address in January, H.3579 in its current form contains no corresponding tax relief. Likewise, the plan does nothing to reform the too-often politically-driven Transportation Commission, which oversees the Department of Transportation.

Earlier this week South Carolina taxpayers narrowly escaped a major liability when a $237 million bonding package was defeated on a technicality in the Senate. The General Assembly should build on this taxpayer victory and ensure that any tax and fee increases are more than offset with corresponding tax cuts. If the bill is amended to provide real tax relief to hardworking South Carolinians and reforms the Transportation Commission, it could prove worthy of taxpayer support. Until such amendments are adopted, however, NTU encourages all members of the South Carolina General Assembly to oppose H.3579.  

Brandon Arnold
Executive Vice President