Columbia Skyline

In a move that could spark a new wave of major development in South Carolina’s capital, Columbia and Richland County governments have agreed to offer major tax breaks to major developments. 

They are offering a 10-year, 50 percent joint property tax break for large commercial and residential projects that exceed $30 million in investment.

The tax break, approved by city and county councils, echoes deals that encouraged development of private student housing near the University of South Carolina campus. Four student housing projects in Columbia each worth at least $40 million took advantage of a 10-year cut in their property taxes of 50 percent from 2014 to 2015.

“A large majority of our (land) is not on the tax rolls,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said. “You wind up with this really weird concoction that puts an undue burden onto our commercial taxpayers. So, this is a goal of using a county tool to alleviate some of that tax burden, if you develop the types of property that we think the city and the county want to see.”

The goal, according to Richland County Council member Chip Jackson, is to "eliminate the barriers that our crazy tax laws create."

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Jessica Holdman is a business reporter for The Post & Courier covering Columbia. Prior to moving to South Carolina, she reported on business in North Dakota for The Bismarck Tribune and has previously written for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.

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