Contrary to media reports, with the exception of MyrtlebeachSC.com, the Tourism Development Tax (TDF), aka Tourism Tax, has not been extended yet from 2019 to 2029 - because Myrtle Beach City Council has not voted to extend it.
Based on my discussions with those on Council who would talk to me, I expect them to vote in favor of it. Mayor John Rhodes told me the tax was his idea. This is the tax that is providing more than $20 million to the chamber this year.
Council should vote to rescind this tax for several reasons. Why? Because it is not working!
It is not growing tourism compared to counties that have no such tax. Horry is the only county in the state with the tax and Myrtle Beach is the only city in the county to adopt it. They did it by council vote, not a referendum so taxpayers could weigh in.
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According to data from the South Carolina Department of Revenue in Columbia, accommodation tax collections, a direct measure of tourism, for Horry County increased over the last five years from $18,334,209 in 2012 to $19,884,491 in 2016. This is an increase of $1,550,282 over 5 years.
Compare this to the next two largest accommodations tax collecting counties, Beaufort and Charleston. With no TDF taxes, Beaufort increased from $5,878,067 in 2012 to $7,893,622 in 2016, for an increase of 34.29 percent, equaling $2,015,555.
With no TDF, Charleston County increased from $11,899,673 in 2012 to $15,427,128 in 2016, an increase of 29.64 percent, equaling $3,527,455.
So the tax is not working. Where is that money actually going? What did we get for our millions?
Let’s vote for four new council members in November 2017 who will vote to rescind this tax.
Ann A. Dunham, Myrtle Beach