Accountable USA - South Carolina

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, and there was no information available on Film Tax Credits and Sales and Use Tax Exemption. Gigantic single deals still have 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. For long, critics have charged that the revenue losses associated with these huge giveaways have caused underfunding of education, social services and infrastructure. Despite attracting lots of new jobs, South Carolina persistently ranks very low on such measures as educational attainment and road safety. To make matters worse, South Carolina does not provide online company-specific disclosure or outcome data for most of the major subsidy programs we track.

 

 

CLICK ON THESE LINKS FOR THE LATEST DATA 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: mega-deals)

Tax revenue loss: Results page for South Carolina in Tax Break Tracker

Disclosure enforcement: South Carolina GASB 77 Roadmap

 

 

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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 (2018)
0/100
not included
not included

Job Development Credits

payments based on worker personal income tax withholding for firms which meet job creation, wage, and benefit requirements

$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 Vought Aircraft Industries (2004)

South Carolina was one of the “losers” in the 2003 competition staged by Boeing for its initial production facilities for the 7E7 Dreamliner. But the state kept wooing the airplane manufacturer as well as some of its major suppliers. In 2004 Vought Aircraft Industries, a key supplier of the fuselage and other components of the Dreamliner, agreed to build a $560 million, two-plant manufacturing complex with more than 600 jobs at Charleston International Airport.

The facility, to be operated by Vought and its Italian joint venture partner Alenia Aeronautica, was offered a package of tax breaks, land and training assistance initially estimated at $80 million, then $116 million. The state also agreed to issue up to $160 million in bonds to help finance the complex. In 2007 the Vought workers in Charleston voted to be represented by the Machinists union (which was decertified two years later). Vought experienced production problems, and 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. During that time there were reports that Boeing was considering Charleston for a second Dreamliner production line, prompting the legislature to enact the framework for a huge subsidy deal.

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)

BMW (1992)

Several states were said to be finalists when BMW was deciding where to locate its first U.S. assembly plant, but it appeared that South Carolina had the inside track. The German automaker was apparently lured by the prospect of a relatively cheap and likely non-union workforce. To add another inducement, the South Carolina legislature passed a $35 million subsidy package that turned out to be just the beginning of what the state was ready to offer the company, which formally announced in June 1992 its decision to use a site near the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport. BMW said it planned to make an initial investment of between $250 million and $300 million on the plant, which would eventually employ 2,000 workers. The company later revealed that it intended to build two plants at the site, increasing its projected investment to at least $600 million and the size of the ultimate workforce to 4,000. Not much was said about the state and local subsidies being offered to BMW, which at the time were estimated at $130 million and were later pegged at $150 million.

The company’s aim of keeping the plants non-union provoked an angry response not only from the United Auto Workers but also from Germany’s IG Metall metalworkers’ union. In the years since BMW began production in 1994, the company has expanded the operation several times. With the increased investment came increased subsidies, including a new package of more than $100 million in 2003. The company’s workforce rose at the same time, surpassing that 4,000 target. But in recent years BMW has relied heavily on contingent workers hired through a temp agency to handle periods of increased production. In March 2011 BMW announced a $100 million expansion at the Greer plant. (Key sources)

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.