S.C. Governor Announces Tax Cut Proposals for First Responders

S.C. Governor Announces Tax Cut Proposals for First Responders

News Jan 06, 2018

Aiken Standard, S.C.

Jan. 05—South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced tax cut proposals for veterans, law enforcement and first responders Friday.

"There's never enough money to pay our military, law enforcement officers, first responders, those in the Department of Natural Resources, the prison guards, and there probably never will be enough money to pay them; but we would like to pay them for the great service that they do," McMaster said.

In the 2018-19 executive budget, McMaster said he will propose a tax reform that permanently and fully exempts military veterans and retired first responders, including state and federal law enforcement, firefighters, and peace officers, from paying state taxes on retirement income.

"This is will be about a $22 million tax cut for the men and women who put their lives on the line for us," he said. "There's no way we will ever be able to repay these men and women in uniform for the true value they add to our state and our community, but this is one example of how we can show our gratitude and appreciation for their service. This income tax exemption on retirement pay will reaffirm the unwavering commitment of South Carolinians to these people who have chosen to serve."

Scored by the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (RFA), the governor's proposed exemption for South Carolina's 37,863 military veterans is an augmentation of Act 272 of 2016 and will result in average yearly savings of $524 for military retirees under the age of 65 and $210 for those 65 and older. In total, the exemption for military veterans will result in a tax cut of over $14 million in fiscal year 2018-19.

"I want to thank the governor for this great initiative, along with all of our inter-agency partners here," said Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston Jr., Adjutant General of South Carolina. "We command troops that do great things for the people of South Carolina and for people across this nation, so thank you for recognizing that sacrifice. The other thing, as a long-term citizen of South Carolina, that I'm excited about is the economic prospect of bringing people into South Carolina for retirement. ...Thank you, governor for your leadership and for your commitment to propelling this great state forward."

The governor's exemption for South Carolina's 20,370 law enforcement officers, firefighters and peace officers was similarly scored by the RFA and is expected to result in an $8.5 million yearly tax cut -- an average of $713 yearly savings for a retiree under the age of 65 and $102 for those 65 and older.

"As we gather as leaders across this state and across the country in law enforcement, one of our concerns is recruitment and retention -- this initiative is going to put a great tool in our toolbox to be able to recruit good people and keep them in our profession," said Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon. "We can't say how much we appreciate this initiative -- it's going to go a long way in law enforcement."

South Carolina's State Fire Marshal, Jonathan Jones, called the announcement an "important initiative."

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"This is important, not just to recruit new people to our profession, but to retain those who have dedicated their lives to it so they can pass on the knowledge, skills and abilities to the next generation of firefighters," Jones said. "The governor mentioned that we can never repay the value of the firefighters who often times, in the execution of their duties, endure perils and some that pay the ultimate sacrifice and put their lives on the line day in and day out for the citizens of South Carolina, and I thank him for the commitment he has shown to our community and look forward to working with him for many years."

This proposal would have to be approved by the General Assembly.

Tripp Girardeau is the crime and courts reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter at @trippgirardeau.

Tripp Girardeau
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