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July 16, 2020

Celebrating a Small Victory for a Prized Myrtle Beach Area Industry

Admissions Tax Relief for the Amusement Industry

Places of amusement in South Carolina, and particularly the Grand Strand, have been economically devastated perhaps worse than any other industry throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. By Executive Order, these theaters, venues, music halls and amphitheaters that our community cherishes have been closed for the past five months, with no relief in sight. These industries along the Grand Strand typically thrive during the spring and summer months as repeat visitors make a trip to the show a part of their annual family vacation. These families often book their seats at the show months, or sometimes as long as a year before their Myrtle Beach vacation.

South Carolina imposes an admissions tax of 5% on the paid right to enter or use a place of amusement. The tax is paid by the customer and then remitted to the SC Department of Revenue (DOR) by the business. The business is required to pay DOR the collected tax in the month that you purchase your ticket, not when the performance is scheduled to take place.

With the universal cancellation of over four months of shows, places of amusement in the Myrtle Beach area have had to issue refunds to virtually all of their customers that purchased tickets months ago. These customers are expecting a full refund, including the admissions tax, which, by law, was already remitted by the business to DOR in the month when that customer purchased their ticket. The business wants to, and often does, issue a quick, full refund to the customer to keep morale high and to encourage that customer to rebook when they’re allowed to attend a show. But that full refund the business is paying includes admissions tax that it had already remitted to DOR months prior. For the business to get a refund from DOR, a long trail of paperwork and complex accounting was required, particularly as businesses are dealing with hundreds or thousands of refunds. That was until recently.

Due to the surge in cancellations, the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Team worked directly with these places of amusement, state lawmakers and agencies to address this burden on an industry already at its knees. Earlier this month, the SC Department of Revenue announced a Temporary Refund Request Simplification Due to COVID-19. The new process is a “simplified claim for refund procedure allowing a qualifying business to file a request no more than once a month for a refund of paid admissions tax as refunds are issued to ticketholders.” While only temporary (through 12/31/2020), we are hopeful that DOR and state lawmakers will see this as a successful trial period to make this simplified process permanent.

To learn more, read the official SC DOR information letter and visit SCDOR.


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