The state's Republican Senator feels that out-of-towners moving into the state should not get free access to services that long-time residents have paid for in taxes.
South Carolina is on the verge of implementing a new $500 "Yankee Tax" on new residents who move to the state with a car they intend to drive around. The South Carolina Senate Finance Committee approved the bill, which will be voted on soon on the Senate floor. It's widely expected to receive the go-ahead, which means a new resident will have to pay a $500 once-off fee for a driver's license and vehicle registration.
This new tax has an interesting backstory and directly results from the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Because the world effectively shut down, remote working became an acceptable norm. Pre-shutdown, certain workers were physically tied to large economic hubs like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Thanks to remote working now being an option for many, people are moving away from these hubs to enjoy the benefits of living in a prettier state with lower taxes, more affordable parking rates, and much cheaper houses, not to mention a more satisfying quality of life.
As a result, South Carolina has seen a massive influx of Yankees, and the senator wants them to contribute to maintaining infrastructure. The state has a meager gas tax used to repair roads, buildings, and public transit. South Carolina's gas tax is a mere 28 cents per gallon compared to nearly 54 cents in California (the highest in the country).
"We're not trying to build a wall across the North Carolina border," said Republican Senator Stephen Goldfinch. "But, at the same time, we think that people should have to pay their fair share when they show up."
On the other side, Democratic Senator John Scott thinks that new residents already start paying the moment they move in via the gas tax.
The annual gas tax increase was approved in 2017. It predates the pandemic and the results thereof. In short, it was calculated using population figures and estimated growth available at the time, and not a pandemic nobody saw coming.
Speaking to AP News, Goldfinch mentioned Georgetown County specifically. He said it's unfair for new people to move in and use infrastructure and facilities paid for by his constituents who have lived there for a while.
According to the bill, Yankees will pay the tax with property taxes. The receipt will then be handed over to the DMV, where a person will get new papers for their Ford F-150. It's the most popular vehicle in the state, despite the close connection with BMW.
For our international readers, you might know 'Yankee' or 'Yanks' as slang for 'Americans.' In the USA, it's generally used for people living in the country's northern parts.
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