In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, South Carolina collected $15.1 billion in state and local taxes. While this is an impressive sum of money, it tells us little about whether or not the average South Carolina taxpayer can afford this level of taxation.
As shown in Chart 1, South Carolina’s state and local tax burden (tax collections divided by personal income) was the eleventh lowest in the nation for FY 2013 at 9 percent—this is -13 percent below the national average of 10.3 percent. As shown in Chart 2, South Carolina’s tax burden has increased over time by 37 percent to 9 percent in FY 2013 from 6.5 percent in FY 1950.
South Carolina’s low state and local tax burden is not driven by any particular element in their tax code as their tax burdens are all are below the national average, especially the individual income tax (1.9 percent, 35th highest) and corporate income tax (0.23 percent, 38th highest).
Of course, the tax burdens for local government can vary just as much as they do among the 50 states. As such, we have also calculated the local government tax burden for every county in South Carolina—this includes every taxing jurisdiction within the geographic county borders whether it is a city, a special district, or county government itself.
The South Carolina counties with the highest local government tax burden include: Horry County, SC (7.2 percent), Fairfield County, SC (6.2 percent), and Charleston County, SC (5.5 percent). The South Carolina counties with the lowest local government tax burden include: Edgefield County, SC (2 percent), Saluda County, SC (2 percent), and Darlington County, SC (2.2 percent).
J. Scott Moody has over 18 years as a public policy economist with a specialty in tax policy and has over 180 publications. He has worked for numerous national and state-based think tanks such as Federalism In Action, Tax Foundation, Heritage Foundation, and The Maine Heritage Policy Center.