Accountable USA - South Carolina

Updated 5/18/2021

 

South Carolina is known for its enormous job tax credits, film incentives, business recruitment funds, and mega-deals for automobile and aircraft production. In 2019, Job Development, Job Retraining, Apprenticeship, and New Jobs Tax Credit together accounted for $157.9 million in subsidy spending. $28.8 million in grants were used to attract firms through the Rural Infrastructure Fund, Set-Aside Fund, and Governor's Closing Fund. Motion Picture Production Rebates cost $33.2 million. 

Gigantic single deals still have a lasting fiscal impact: In 2009, Boeing was rewarded with subsidies believed to be worth up to $900 million for agreeing to open a production line for its Dreamliner aircraft; in 2010, then-Gov. Mark Sanford negotiated a subsidy deal with online retailer Amazon.com for a distribution center project in which the company would not only receive traditional subsidies but was also allowed to forgo collecting sales tax from its South Carolina customers for five years.

South Carolina's counties also give out large subsidies. They enter into Fee in Lieu of Taxes (FILOT) agreements that abate companies' property taxes for 30-40 years. These sometimes entail add-on tax credits through the Special Source Revenue Credit (SSRC) and Multi-County Industrial Park (MCIP) programs. Public schools lost $423 million in 2019 to these programs. 

To make matters worse, South Carolina does not provide online company-specific disclosure or outcome data for most of the major subsidy programs. It's also one of the few states that do not report tax abatement programs in their annual comprehensive financial reports (ACFRs). 

 

KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST ON SOUTH CAROLINA:

Corporate misconduct: Results page for South Carolina in Violation Tracker

Subsidy deals: Results page for South Carolina in Subsidy Tracker (see also: megadeals)

Tax revenue loss: Results page for South Carolina in Tax Break Tracker (see also: roadmap)

Blog and press releases: Results page for South Carolina in our newsroom 

Publications: Our reports and studies featuring South Carolina

 

 

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Key Subsidy Programs

Subsidy Program Recent Annual
Cost
Online Recipient
Disclosure
Recipient Disclosure
Score
Job-Creation/
Job-Quality Score**
Monitoring/
Enforcement Score***

Investment Tax Credit

including Angel Investor Credit and Venture Capital Investment Credit

$55.7 million (2019)
0/100
20/100
35/100

Economic Development Funds

includes Rural Infrastructure Fund; Set-Aside Fund; Governor's Deal-Closing Fund

$28.9 million (2019)
0/100
not included
not included

Job Development Credits

payments based on worker personal income tax withholding 

$83.4 million (2019)
3/100
100/100
75/100

New Jobs Credit

corporate income tax credit for job creation

$71.6 million (2019)
0/100
35/100
40/100

Motion Picture Rebate

wage and supplier rebate; rebate of admissions tax

$33.2 million (2019)
60/100
30/100

* The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Show Us the Subsidized Jobs (January 2014).

** The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Money for Something (December 2011).

*** The score is derived from the Good Jobs First report Money-Back Guarantees for Taxpayers (January 2012).

Major Subsidy Deals

Boeing (2009 and 2013) 

In 2004, a new facility at the Charleston International Airport to be operated by Vought Aircraft Industries and Alenia Aeronautica (Boeing's suppliers) received $116 million in tax breaks and $160 million in bonds. In 2008 Boeing bought out its share of the venture with Alenia that operated one of the two plants; the following year it purchased the other plant, which had been operated by Vought alone. 

In October 2009 Boeing made it official, announcing that it would spend at least $750 million on the new production line and create thousands of jobs. The state's subsidy package was initially estimated at $450 million, a large part of which reflected generous property tax abatements. In January 2010 the Charleston Post and Courier published an analysis of the package that concluded it could be worth more than $900 million.

In April 2011 the Machinists union filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against Boeing, saying that the move to Charleston was an unlawful form of retaliation against labor activism in Washington State. The case caused an enormous uproar until it was settled in December 2011 as part of an agreement in which Boeing agreed to build another new jet in the Seattle area using union workers. (Key sources)

In 2013, Boeing obtained another $112 million in subsidies via bond financing to expand its Dreamliner production facilities. The property will be turned over to Boeing after the bonds are paid off in 15 years if Boeing succeeds in making $1 billion in investment and creating 2,000 new jobs within eight years. (Source

Carolina Panthers (2020)

Carolina Panthers will receive $160 million in incentives (mostly in the form of job tax credits and job development grants) from the state and $225 million in infrastructural spending from local governments for moving its headquarters from Charlotte, North Carolina to Rock Hill, South Carolina. The plan is to build better training facilities as well as shops, restaurants, offices, and a hotel. (Source) Until the $225 million mark is reached, 75 percent of the revenue originally earmarked for the Rock Hill School District and 65 percent of county revenue will be diverted to cover the infrastructural cost. (Source)

Walmart in South Carolina

  • At least 3 Wal-Mart locations have received subsidies worth about $38.5 million in South Carolina.
  • At least 4 Wal-Mart locations in South Carolina have challenged their property tax assessment.
  • Many Wal-Mart workers are ineligible for health coverage from their employer or choose not to purchase what is available, because it is too expensive or too limited in scope. These workers often turn to taxpayer-funded health programs such as Medicaid. South Carolina among those states that have not disclosed data on the employers with the most workers or their dependents enrolled in such programs.

For more information, see the South Carolina page of Wal-Mart Subsidy Watch.