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Incentives

Dorchester County recognizes that the taxing scheme of a state is an important factor when deciding to locate or expand a business. Often, a business is unaware of available tax incentives that may reduce or eliminate many of the taxes that would otherwise be due.



Below is a detailed description of the property incentives that Dorchester County is pleased to provide for qualifying projects, followed by a description of South Carolina's income, property, and sales and tax incentives.

County Incentives

Dorchester County has the authority to negotiate property-tax based incentives; however, County Council makes final approval of any incentives.

Companies may take advantage of two potential incentive programs that impact property tax. Depending on the size of investment, a company may qualify for a five-year abatement of a statutorily set portion of the property tax or, with agreement from the County, a Fee-in-Lieu-of-Tax (FILOT) arrangement may be negotiated.

  1. Property Tax Abatement (Statutory)
    South Carolina provides a property tax abatement to new or existing companies making a new capital investment. The purpose of this incentive is to reduce tax burdens when new assets are at their greatest value. The abatement can result in approximately a 20-25% annual reduction in property tax liability for a five-year period.

    To qualify for the Property Tax Abatement, a company must be involved in manufacturing, research and development, corporate headquarters, or distribution/warehousing. If other than a manufacturer or R&D facility, a business must create at least 75 new jobs. There must also be an investment greater than $50,000 in one year to qualify.

    If qualifying thresholds are met, the company must simply complete a PT-300 tax return from the SC Department of Revenue.
  2. Fee-in-Lieu of Property Tax (Negotiated)
    A company may negotiate a Fee-in-Lieu-of-Tax (FILOT) agreement with the County. FILOT agreements are subject to final approval by County Council.

    The FILOT arrangement is designed to reward capital investment and job creation by reducing the property tax burden over the long-term. A FILOT can reduce tax liability by approximately 42% annually for a 20-year period on new investment occurring in a five-year window.

    To qualify for a FILOT, the company must be a manufacturer, warehouse/distributor, or office/headquarters. The company must commit to a significant capital investment over a five-year period (greater than $5 million over five years, though investments of $2.5 million will be considered in rural areas of the County). The project must also be competitive with other locations.

    The FILOT has the ability to lower the assessment ratio from 10.5% to 6% on real and personal property for manufacturers. The millage may be locked for a period of 20 years or adjusted every five years. The approval process for a FILOT requires legal council to prepare ordinances and agreements on behalf of the company and County Council approval. A typical approval process takes eight weeks.

State Incentives

In South Carolina, the state administers corporate income and sales and use taxes, and counties levy property tax. Therefore, each government's authority ability to reward growth is tied to their mode of taxation.

South Carolina's incentive legislation allows both bodies to incent both new and existing industries when new jobs are created and/or new capital investment occurs.

There are two levels of incentives in South Carolina. Incentives are either statutory, meaning a business can automatically qualify if requirements are met. The second level of incentives is negotiated, meaning they are offered at the discretion of the appropriate governing body.

  1. Jobs Tax Credit (Statutory)
    The Job Tax Credit is a valuable incentive that rewards new and expanding companies for creating jobs in South Carolina. In order to qualify, companies must create and maintain a certain number of new jobs in a taxable year. The number of new jobs is calculated as the increase in average monthly employment from one year to the next.

    The credit is applied on a per employee basis. Currently, Dorchester County is a Tier V County and the credit is worth $1,500 per new employee (the credit can be increased to $2,500 per employee for property placed into the Multi County Industrial Park). The credit is applied to the company's corporate income tax liability in South Carolina (up to 50% of the company's liability). Unused credits can be carried forward for a period of up to 15 years. To be eligible for the credit, a minimum of 10 new jobs must be created.
  2. Job Development Credits (Discretionary)
    As a manufacturer, your company may be qualified to apply for the Job Development Credit. The credit is a unique incentive that allows South Carolina to assist a company in significantly reducing, or in some cases completely offsetting, certain approved capital expenditures over a 15-year period. Unlike tax credits or exemptions, this incentive is credited quarterly as a direct cash contribution. A company can only expect to collect Job Development Credits from employees earning an hourly wage equal to or more than that of the County's average wage.

    Only qualifying capital investments made within five years after the application has been approved (and any similar investments made 60 days prior to approval) can be considered. If approved, your company may be reimbursed for portions of the following types of expenditures:
    • Land acquisition, building construction, site/building improvements including some tenant improvements to leased property, and in certain instances, lease cost;
    • Public and private utility system upgrades (water, wastewater, electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications);
    • Transportation facilities;
    • Purchase/acquisition of "pollution control equipment" (equipment required to meet federal and state environmental requirements); and
    • Approved training costs not covered by readySC, training facilities, export training, and apprenticeship programs;

    To be qualified to apply, your company must submit an Application for Qualification for Enterprise Program Incentives to the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development. Your company must create at least 10 net new full-time jobs or equivalents with a benefits package that includes a comprehensive healthcare plan. The company must pay 50% of an eligible employee's cost of health plan premiums to qualify for Job Development Credit benefits. Only qualifying capital investments made within five years after the application has been approved (and any similar investments made 60 days prior to approval) can be considered for reimbursement. Please note there is a $4,000 non-refundable application fee and the program has a $500 annual renewal fee.

    The Revitalization Agreement establishes your company's investment and employment commitments used to claim the credit, sets the project's investment and employment completion date (must be within five years of the date of the agreement), and identifies eligible expenditures. Once your company has met the investment and job creation criteria outlined in the Revitalization Agreement, your company would be able to begin collecting Job Development Credits.

    The total amount of Job Development Credits your company will receive depends on these criteria:
    • The hourly wage rate paid to individual employees (shown in Table 1),
    • The development designation of the county (shown in Table 2)

    Table 1: Enterprise Program Wage Guidelines

    Average Hourly Wage (or Equivalent)1 

    Maximum Rebate (As % of Gross Wages)

    $11.63 - $14.53

    3%

    $14.54 -$21.80

     4%

    $21.81 and greater

     5%

    1 These values are adjusted annually.

    Table 2: Enterprise Program Classification & Credit Guidelines

    County Classification

    Maximum Credit (% Retained by Co.)

    Tiers 1 & 2

    100%

    Tier 3

    85%

    Tier 4

    70%

    Tier 5*

    55%

    *Currently, Dorchester County is a Tier 5 County.


  3. Other State Incentives
    Other state incentives are available through the Coordinating Council for Economic Development. These incentives may include grants to assist with infrastructure improvements that facilitate economic development.

    Training opportunities for workforce development are also available through readySC.