Former SC legislator objects to DOR’s Richland penny tax tactics

A former state legislator on Tuesday joined the chorus of Richland County leaders questioning the state revenue department’s authority to withhold transportation penny tax revenues from the county.

Jim Felder, who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1970 and was one of the first African-Americans to serve in the state Legislature since Reconstruction, spoke in objection to the Department of Revenue’s demands that Richland County make particular changes to its transportation penny sales tax program or else it would withhold further collections. DOR does not have the authority to do that, Felder said, echoing arguments made by some county leaders.

“It’s not the state’s money. These are Richland County funds,” Felder said. “(DOR’s) job is to collect the funds and distribute them to the county.”

Felder said he believes there are thousands of other Richland County taxpayers who stand with him against what he believes is an attack on the county’s money.

County Council has said it is willing to take legal action to seek a ruling on DOR’s authority to demand the changes it has and to withhold the county’s tax collections.

DOR has asserted that the county has misspent millions of penny tax dollars and said it has the authority to “enforce the state’s tax laws” by withholding revenues from the county.

“The findings from the investigation speak for themselves,” DOR said in a statement Tuesday. “The Department’s sole concern is that penny tax funds are spent in accordance with the law.”