South Carolina Sales Tax Guide

South Carolina’s sales and use tax rate is 6 percent. Most retail sales are subject to sales and use taxes. Additionally, counties may add up to 1 percent discretionary sales tax to the state’s sales tax rate if residents of the county vote for it.

Senior citizens aged 85 and older can request a tax deduction of 1 percent on most goods and services. The senior must ask for a reduced tax rate and show proof of age.

This guide does not fully describe all of South Carolina’s laws and regulations regarding taxes. Businesses should contact a business attorney or visit the South Carolina Department of Revenue website to learn more about the rules, regulations, tax laws and tax information associated with their industries and the types of taxes due.

Types of taxes

In addition to the sales tax rate, South Carolina has additional taxes that it levies on certain items, such as accommodations. It also allows local jurisdictions to charge a sales tax on top of the state sales tax.

Sales and use tax on sales of goods and services

In addition to South Carolina’s sales tax rate of 6 percent, it levies a use tax against:

  • Those who purchase taxable items without paying the tax at the time of purchase. This sometimes happens when an individual purchases items from a catalog or the internet out of state. If the seller does not collect South Carolina’s sales tax, the purchaser must pay the use tax.
  • If a retailer purchases taxable items for resale but ends up using or storing those items, it must pay the use tax if it did not pay sales tax at the time of purchase.

The difference is that the sales tax is imposed upon and collected by the retailer. The use tax is imposed upon the consumer. The use tax rate is the same as the sales tax rate of 6 percent.

Admission charges

South Carolina charges an admissions tax. Places of amusement must collect a 5-percent tax on paid admissions. Operators must also have an Admissions Tax License. There is no charge for the license to the taxpayer.

Operators can file admissions taxes by:

Additionally:

  • Improperly completed returns result in a penalty of $500.
  • Those who have a tax liability of $15,000 or more must file using MyDORWAY and pay electronically.

The due dates for the amusement tax are on the first day of the month following the period the operator collected the tax. Returns and taxes are late on the 21st day.

Accommodations tax (Hotel room occupancy tax)

Any establishment that rents out rooms must charge a 2-percent accommodations tax on top of the state and local sales taxes. Establishments subject to the accommodations tax include:

  • Hotels.
  • Motels.
  • Campgrounds.
  • Boarding houses.
  • Inns.
  • Bed and breakfasts.
  • Mobile home parks.

If an establishment rents a room for 90 or more continuous days, the tax does not apply. The exception is renting accommodations for no more than one week per year; the individual does not have to obtain a retail license nor pay the tax.

Establishments can file and pay using MyDORWAY or on tax form ST-388. The establishment will most likely also have to file Form ST-389 for local taxes and Form ST-3T for local accommodations taxes.

Vehicle rentals

In South Carolina, a motor vehicle rental company can charge airport access fees, vehicle license fees, airport concession fees and applicable taxes for those fees to the consumer. The 5-percent vehicle rental tax was removed by South Carolina Code 56-31-50. A short-term lease is 90 or fewer days.

Manufactured and modular homes

South Carolina levies a tax on manufactured and modular homes.

  • Manufactured Homes: Taxed at a rate of 5 percent of 65 percent of the gross proceeds from the sale. The maximum tax is $300 if the home meets the energy efficiency requirements of the statute.

There is a 2-percent tax for the portion of the home that does not meet the energy-efficient requirements.

  • Modular Homes: Taxed at a rate of 5 percent plus local taxes of 65 percent of the gross proceeds from the sale.

Modular homes vs. Manufactured homes

A manufactured home is at least 8 feet wide or 40 feet or longer, or more than 320 square feet. It might or might not have a permanent foundation and is built on a permanent chassis. It must be a dwelling.

A modular home is at least 8 feet wide or 35 or more feet long. It is temporarily or permanently affixed to real estate and does not require a permanent chassis. It must be a single-family dwelling.

Food and beverage tax

All unprepared food is exempt from the state sales tax. However, many counties and municipalities charge local sales taxes on unprepared food. Local taxes might include the local option, capital projects, school district, transportation tax, education capital improvement, and tourism development.

Several municipalities and counties impose a tax of up to 2 percent on unprepared food. Many have two separate 1-percent taxes.

Discretionary taxes (Local tax rates)

South Carolina allows municipalities and counties to levy local sales tax rates of up to 2 percent. The rate might include only a local option or one of several other taxes, or it might include more than one additional option, including:

  • Capital projects.
  • School district.
  • Transportation tax.
  • Education capital improvement.
  • Tourism development.

Registering for and filing South Carolina's taxes

Businesses can file sales tax returns and use tax returns by filing online at MyDORWAY or by completing the appropriate tax form. Most will use Form ST-3.

If a business decides to use the paper form to file taxes, it must pay close attention to the due dates to ensure the sales tax return is not late. Whether the business has a balance due or a zero balance due determines where the business mails the tax return and payment.

  • Balance Due Mailing Address: SCDOR, PO Box 100193, Columbia, SC, 29202
  • No Balance Due Mailing Address: SCDOR, PO Box 125, Columbia, SC, 29214-0101

Due dates for South Carolina’s sales taxes

Sales and use tax returns and payments are due on the 20th day following the collection period.

  • Monthly filers file on or before the 20th day of the next month: Pay January’s taxes on or before February 20.
  • Quarterly filers file on or before the 20th day of the month following the quarter: Pay first quarter’s (January through March) taxes on or before April 20.
  • Yearly filers file on or before January 20 of the next year: Taxes collected throughout 2022 will be due on or before January 20, 2023.

South Carolina sales tax holiday

South Carolina has a sales tax holiday. However, the dates have not been set for 2022 as of this writing. Businesses should check the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website for upcoming tax holiday dates.

South Carolina sales tax exemptions

South Carolina has several sales and use tax exemptions. A partial list includes:

  • Sales to the federal government.
  • Motor vehicle extended service and warranty contracts.
  • Certain nonprofit organizations.
  • Livestock and livestock feed.
  • Prescriptions and prosthetic devices prescribed by a doctor.
  • Residential electricity and fuel.
  • Hearing aids.

Businesses can find a complete list of exemptions on the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website.

Remote and marketplace sellers

Remote sellers and marketplace facilitators must collect sales tax and remit sales tax returns in South Carolina if the previous year’s sales into South Carolina exceed $100,000. However, most remote sellers collect tax regardless, as a convenience to their customers.

Additionally, marketplace facilitators usually collect taxes on behalf of marketplace sellers. If not, the seller must collect and remit sales tax returns and payments.

Remote sellers should register using MyDORWAY. However, they can register for a retail license by paper, using SCDOR Remote Seller Sales and Use Tax Registration Form SCDOR-111 RS.

FAQs

South Carolina’s sales tax is 6 percent, as is the use tax. Municipalities and counties may also add a local sales and use tax.

South Carolina’s exemption certificate and resale certificate are two different tax forms. Businesses should download the proper form to give to their vendors. They should also keep a copy of the form for each vendor on file.

All businesses should check with the Department of Revenue for each state to determine whether they need to collect taxes. Some states do not have a sales tax. Others do not offer the small business exemption of $100,000.

Yes. If a business rents tangible personal property or a taxable service, it must collect sales tax.

Yes, if a nonprofit organization provides the meals.

The retailer collects the sales tax at the time consumers make a purchase. An individual or business pays use tax if the individual or business did not pay tax on taxable items at the time of purchase and a business does not resell the items.

Unprepared food is any food eaten at home, seeds and plants used to grow food for human consumption, and cold items, including salads and sandwiches, intended to be eaten at home.

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