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South Carolina Corporate Tax Breaks Benefit Business, Punish Poor

September 19, 2020

Here, in it’s entirety, is a Press Release announcing a report from Good Jobs First:

Christine Wen, Kasia Tarczynska, and Greg LeRoy
Date Published

Public school districts in South Carolina suffered a sharp increase in lost tax revenue in FY 2019 due to corporate tax abatements: $423 million. This is $99 million, or 31 percent, more than two years earlier. Already-poor school districts lost the most: the six school districts that reported the biggest per-pupil revenue losses also have some of the highest student poverty; four of them have a Black plus Hispanic majority. The costly tax abatements are negotiated by South Carolina’s counties pursuant to state law. In this report, we present our findings on the programs, deals, and costs, and offer a menu of policy options to protect the state’s most foundational economic development investment–its public education system.

Here are some highlights (or more accurately “lowlights” from the report:

  • Out of the 81 public school districts in South Carolina, at least 72 suffered some negative revenue impact.
  • …the six school districts with per-pupil revenue losses greater than $2,000 have some of the highest student poverty rates in the state as measured by the share of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

The report offers a couple of examples of the benefits Google and Michelin Tires received as a result of the generous tax abatements… abatements that effectively reduced the costs to operate in South Carolina and thereby rewarded the shareholders of Google and Michelin while transferring costs to local property owners in the counties who offered the abatements… or, more likely, diminishing the budgets of school districts in those counties. The result: the rich are getting richer and the districts serving the poverty stricken face ever greater challenges.


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