Friday letters: Seniors need to claim SC tax exemption

August 23, 2013 

— Many senior citizens are paying more sales tax than the law requires because they don’t ask for their exemption. People 85 and older were exempted from the 1 percent sales tax that was added by the Legislature in 1984 to pay for the Education Improvement Act.

Paying a 5 percent state sales tax instead of a 6 percent tax can amount to a tidy sum over time, and the Department of Revenue and news media could perform a genuine service by periodically reminding senior citizens of their privilege.

Seniors must ask for the exemption and show an ID proving they are 85 or older. It could be a problem for a new cashier who doesn’t understand the law (S.C. Code 12-26-2620), but it represents a dollar saved by an elderly customer on a $100 purchase.

I cannot find data about how much older South Carolinians have overpaid in sales taxes since 1984, and I haven’t the faintest idea how one goes about claiming the deduction from web sites or mail order. I’ll just mark that up to another complication of high-tech modern life.

John Wrisley


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