Remember state forests on your tax return

From the South Carolina Forestry Commission:

(Columbia, SC)  The South Carolina Forestry Commission is urging tax payers to remember their forests when filing their state returns.

This tax season marks the second year that taxpayers anticipating a refund will have an option to contribute all or part of it to sustaining state-owned forestlands.  The General Assembly passed an income tax check off creating the SC State Forests Fund during the 2010 Legislative Session.

"We've been able to launch a number of improvement projects at our state forests thanks to the generosity of South Carolina tax filers," says Scott Hawkins of the Commission's public information office.

A solar power project at Harbison State Forest in Columbia, a fishing pier at Sand Hills State Forest in Patrick, SC, and restroom facilities for the Manchester State Forest rifle range in Sumter County are just some of the projects underway thanks to the $20,000 this fund generated last tax season, according to Hawkins.

The Commission manages five state forests to demonstrate that (properly managed) forestland can be fiscally and ecologically productive.  Forestry and timber-related businesses account for most of the economic impact of the state's manufacturing sector.

"Historically, landowners have looked to our state forests as role models," says Hawkins.  "As they set their own land management goals, they have the state forests to look to as living examples of the numerous benefits provided by forests."

Line 28 of State Tax Form 1040 allows the tax filer to contribute some or all of a refund toward any organization or agency listed on Form I-330.  A description of the SC Forests Fund is now among them.  By checking the SC Forests Fund, tax filers will be helping to support the five state forests managed by the Commission:

  • Sand Hills State Forest -- 46,000 acres in Chesterfield County
  • Manchester State Forest – 23,745 acres in Sumter County
  • Wee Tee State Forest – 12,439 acres including 12 miles of frontage along the serene Santee River in Williamsburg and Georgetown counties
  • Harbison State Forest  -- 2,200 acres located in the City of Columbia along the scenic Broad River
  • Poe Creek State Forest – 2,500 acres in Pickens and Oconee counties

"The Forestry Commission is the only state agency whose lands are entirely self-supporting," says Mike Shealy, the Commission's state lands manager.  "Operating revenue is generated on-site and 25 percent of that is paid to the local school districts in lieu of property taxes."

Additionally, the Forestry Commission now has tax tips for forest landowners at its website: