County to get a refund

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By Jenny Hartley

Lancaster County may soon be getting a check for $55,000 from its neighbor.

A couple of months ago, Lancaster County learned that some sales taxes from Indian Land businesses had been paid to York County.

The snafu happened because Indian Land's ZIP code, 29707, was accidentally designated as a York County ZIP by the S.C. Department of Revenue, County Administrator Steve Willis said. That led to 31 Indian Land businesses paying sales tax revenue to York County, instead of Lancaster County.

Up until last year, Indian Land shared a ZIP code, 29715, with Fort Mill in York County. The ZIP code issue is still confusing for many, though, since the 29707 ZIP is still classified as a Fort Mill code.

The sales tax error was discovered by Lancaster County Fire Marshal Stephen Blackwelder. Blackwelder was checking Phantom Fireworks and noticed the state code number 46, which is York County, on the fireworks store's retail license.

That number should have been 29, for Lancaster County.

The revenue from the Indian Land businesses went to York County's Pennies for Progress road program, instead of rolling back Lancaster property taxes through the local option sales tax, Willis said.

York County Council members say they have had every intention of paying back the money to Lancaster County since the error was discovered.

They are expected to vote to return the taxes at an upcoming meeting soon. They will receive a small token from Lancaster County.

"I have to take them out to supper," Willis said.

The problem has been corrected, but Willis said he foresees more problems in the future as business grows in the Panhandle.

Having a business license already in place would give the county a way to cross reference the sales tax revenue coming into the county, and would have made it easier to detect the error.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151