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New laws for South Carolinians take effect in 2018

Posted: January 2, 2018 - 4:11pm

COLUMBIA - Tax issues dominate South Carolina's new laws in 2018, but the state is also banning people from buying large cats and requiring local elections even when only one name is on the ballot.

With the calendar's turn on Monday, state law now allows state residents to get a tax credit equal to the two-cent increase in the gas tax that went into effect in July, if they save their gas receipts

They can also choose to get the tax credit instead for vehicle maintenance - such as new tires and oil changes - as long as they can prove they paid for it.

The State newspaper reports other tax changes include allowing any resident paying for a student to go to a South Carolina college to claim a deduction for 50 percent of tuition, up from 25 percent, for a maximum deduction of $1,500 a year.

2018 also starts the slow introduction of a new earned-income tax credit. About 150,000 taxpayers will get a tax credit worth $286, on average, in 2023.

The state's property tax on manufacturers drops from 10.5 percent to 9 percent.

And tied to the gas tax increase is an increase in the registration fees for vehicles. People under age 65 will pay $40 - an increase of $16. The fee for drivers over 65 increases to $36.

Electric car owners will have to pay a $120 one-time fee when they register and hybrid owners must pay $60. All the revenue from the new registration fees will go to pay for roads and bridges.

A few other laws also went into effect Monday, including a ban on residents buying or owning large cats, apes or non-native bears. Before the law was passed, South Carolina was one of only five states without restrictions on the animals.

Anyone currently owning those animals can keep them as long as they pay a $500 fee, register the animal, and submit a plan on how it can quickly and safely be recaptured if it escapes.

Also in 2018, lawmakers repealed a 2003 law that allowed local elections to be called off if only one name was on the ballot. Local governments said it saved money on unchallenged races, but the state Attorney General's Office suggested it was unconstitutional.

 

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