Horry County files injunction to stop Myrtle Beach from collecting hospitality tax

Horry County files injunction to stop Myrtle Beach from collecting hospitality tax
Horry County Council

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County has fired back at Myrtle Beach in an effort to stop the city’s newly-adopted hospitality tax.

Horry County filed a preliminary injunction Tuesday to stop the city from collecting or enforcing any tax or fee imposed in the hospitality tax ordinance.

It all stems from a resolution that Horry County passed in 1996 that allowed the county to start collecting a 1.5% hospitality tax in the unincorporated areas and the municipalities to help fund road projects through the RIDE I program. Myrtle Beach city leaders adopted a resolution supporting the tax.

It became effective on Jan. 1, 1997 and was to expire on Jan. 1, 2017.

In December 2016, the county enacted an ordinance to extend the termination date of the hospitality tax’s “Sunset Provision” to Jan. 1, 2022. Myrtle Beach claims in a lawsuit that their consent was never sought prior to the ordinance’s enactment.

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The county argues in the preliminary injunction filing that it didn’t need the City’s permission to extend the fee.

Court documents show that a preliminary injunction requires a party to show three elements:

  1. It would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction is not granted
  2. It will likely succeed on the merits of the litigation
  3. There is an inadequate remedy at law

The county says it can show all three requirements for a preliminary injunction.

Horry County says in the court filings that if the city is allowed to collect its new taxes, taxpayers will be required to pay more in local accommodations or hospitality taxes than permitted under state law.

“This will create significant confusion, uncertainty with respect to whether the County will be able [to] maintain its budgeted expenses, and public distrust as well as more litigation, all of which will be virtually impossible to undo later on,” the court filing states.

Just last week, the Horry County Delegation to the South Carolina House of Representatives filed a bill that, if enacted, would preclude the city of Myrtle Beach from collecting hospitality fees, help preserve vital infrastructure and public safety dollars, and “preserve the status quo in Horry County” regarding the collection of those taxes.

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