Business Notebook: Free tax workshops lined up for 2011 in S.C.

Local & State | Midlands

Questions about doing your taxes? The S.C. Department of Revenue will offer nearly 30 free tax workshops throughout 2011. Classes start in January and include workshops on sales tax forms for small business owners, basic withholding tax rules for employers and basic corporate tax to teach filing and administrative requirements. All classes will be held at the S.C. Department of Revenue, 301 Gervais St. in Columbia. For dates and times and to pre-register, visit or contact (803) 898-5593 or

Nation & World

Ohio Supreme Court Oks state’s satellite TV tax

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court has upheld a state sales tax for satellite TV providers that cable competitors don’t have to pay, rejecting arguments from the satellite industry that the tax is unfair while maintaining a source of tens of millions of dollars in revenue for the financially struggling state. In the 5-2 decision released Monday, the state’s highest court ruled that the 2003 tax does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause because the tax is based on differences between the nature of the businesses and does not favor in-state interests at the expense of out-of-state interests. Satellite companies had argued that subjecting them and not their cable rivals to the tax violates their rights to interstate commerce because their companies operate between states while cable companies operate within them. But writing for the majority, Justice Terrence O’Donnell said the justices concluded that Ohio lawmakers “imposed a sales tax that makes no distinction between local and interstate commerce, but rather distinguishes based on the mode of distributing television programming.” The 5.5 percent sales tax on satellite TV imposed as part of a budget-balancing tax package in 2003 generated about $54 million for the state in the fiscal year that ended June 30, John Kohlstrand, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Taxation, said Monday. The Legislature chose not to apply the tax to cable operators, which pay local franchise fees that range from 2 percent to 5 percent.

Stocks flat despite China rate rise

NEW YORK -- Stocks were mixed at the close of Monday’s session, as traders shrugged off news that China raised interest rates to slow the pace of its economic growth. Wall Street also is anticipating that Tuesday’s consumer confidence index for December will reflect the optimism of the strong holiday shopping season this year. Otherwise, Monday has been a quiet day following the holiday weekend. A blizzard in the Northeast disrupted commutes for many traders and contributed to very light volume.

AT&T expands Wi-Fi zones

NEW YORK -- Just ahead of New Year’s revelers cramming into New York’s Times Square, AT&T is expanding its deployment of Wi-Fi “hot spots” to improve its wireless data capacity. The phone company is also set to announce Tuesday that it is deploying its first Wi-Fi zone in a public, outdoor area of San Francisco, the Embarcadero waterfront district. The hot spots, clustered into what AT&T Inc. calls “hot zones,” provide fast data service for AT&T subscribers, offloading traffic from the company’s cellular network. Many AT&T smart phones, including the iPhone, connect automatically to AT&T Wi-Fi when it’s available.

Kristy Eppley Rupon and The Associated Press contributed.