When I saw the headline in Wednesday’s Sun News (“Tax relief sought for landlords”) I was, at first, quite happy. And then I read the article. And I was disappointed to learn that it would apply to those with enough money to take extended vacations for themselves while they earned even more money renting out their homes. It is definitely not tax relief for landlords.
After many years of coming here for vacations my husband and I bought a year-round rental property (12-month lease only) with some savings. We wanted to have a little extra income as we were nearing retirement. We unfortunately purchased the property from an owner who had lied to the tax office. Unbeknownst to us, they had declared the property as a primary residence for a lower tax rate. We knew the property had been occupied as a year-round rental. And when we calculated whether we could make any income on the property we unknowingly used the incorrect tax rate supplied to us and decided to make the purchase.
One year later we were astonished to learn that our positive cash flow was out the window when we received a tax bill that was almost triple over the previous year. And we are currently paying 465 percent more than the neighbors who live and own there. Owner-occupied properties are paying approximately $250 and the year-round rental owners are paying $1,417, according to Horry County tax records. This is a street of fourplex buildings – no amenities, no association. Just rentals for residents who live and work in Horry County and can’t afford to own their own homes. There is a definite need for this type of property in Horry County. But the punishing tax rate should not be applied to those of us who choose to provide permanent housing and not vacation getaways.
We have since retired and moved to Horry County. And now we own a home here. We can’t afford to go away for 99 days and pay for hotels so we can rent out our home. We realize that Myrtle Beach has a huge investment in the tourist industry. We enjoy all the amenities it provides. But the disparity in tax rates because of this industry is unconscionable. We need to stop penalizing those who provide permanent year round housing, especially in this economy.
Unfortunately the latest so-called “tax relief” bill is just another assist for the wealthy provided by the GOP. We need to have fair and more uniform tax rates based on values not on whether someone has enough money to take an extended vacation and have their home pay for it.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.