Columbia, S.C. - A proposed tax on new residents, known as the Yankee tax, has been the subject of much discussion in the South Carolina Senate. Senator Tom Davis, along with a few other state senators, has temporarily blocked the bill to allow time to assess its merits. After careful consideration and gathering input from his constituents, Senator Davis has announced that he opposes the proposed Yankee tax.
One of the proposed uses of the Yankee tax is for roads. While Senator Davis acknowledges the need for road repairs in and around his senate district, he notes that financing for the necessary improvements is already in place. For instance, the widening and repaving of I-95 in both directions from the Georgia line to Exit 8 is set to begin in January 2024, and existing tax dollars have been allocated to improve signalization on Highways 170 and 278.
The proposed Yankee tax would also constitute duplicative funding in other respects, with local governments already able to collect impact fees from developers when issuing building permits. These fees cover schools, EMS, roads, parks, libraries, fire services, and more. Senator Davis believes that local governments should be encouraged to fully utilize this existing authority, rather than creating a new tax.
The proposed Yankee tax would also be used for land conservation, a need that Senator Davis acknowledges, particularly in the Lowcountry. However, he notes that steps have already been taken to address this issue, with Beaufort County voters approving a penny sales tax for two years to raise $100 million for the purchase of greenspace, with 60 percent of that tax to be paid by tourists.
Beyond fiscal reasons, Senator Davis also opposes the Yankee tax due to the "Us vs. Them" narrative that he believes is infecting politics. He is concerned that the proposed tax would increase this narrative and further divide the community. Senator Davis believes in persuading colleagues through civil discourse, and he fears that the proposed tax would undermine that necessary virtue.
Finally, Senator Davis believes that the proposed Yankee tax would harm South Carolina's reputation as a state that welcomes newcomers. He points out that the state is home to several multinational corporations, including BMW, Michelin, Volvo, and Boeing, which have invested billions of dollars and created thousands of high-paying jobs. Additionally, thousands of people from other states and countries decide to make South Carolina their new home every year. Senator Davis worries that the proposed tax would discourage newcomers from choosing South Carolina as their new home.
In conclusion, Senator Tom Davis opposes the proposed Yankee tax due to fiscal and non-fiscal reasons. He believes that existing revenue sources should be utilized instead of creating a new tax, and he is concerned that the proposed tax would increase division and harm the state's reputation. The South Carolina Senate will need to carefully consider these factors before making a decision on the proposed Yankee tax.