New Laws for a New Year – Is Your Business Ready?

Each year, our lawmakers pass new laws that impact the lives of South Carolina residents and businesses throughout the state. In some cases, the laws benefit businesses but may require additional steps to remain compliant with state laws. Our South Carolina business compliance lawyers discuss five of the new laws that become effective for state residents and businesses as of January 1, 2019.


Five Important New Laws for 2019 Business Owners Should Know

1. Expansion of Expunged Criminal Records

Lawmakers passed a law that expands the expungement of some criminal offenses. Offenders may erase criminal records for first offenses, juvenile offenses, and minor drug offenses. Also, the new law allows offenders to erase multiple offenses if the crimes were “closely connected.” Business owners will no longer have access to these records that they may have used in the past to make hiring decisions. However, the new law also gives business owners some legal cover who hire employees with expunged records. None of the information about the expunged criminal records can be used as evidence in lawsuits alleging negligence for hiring an employee for expunged offenses.

2. Insurance Companies Must Protect Customer Data
South Carolina was the first state to pass the Insurance Data Security Act, which requires insurance companies to take specific steps to protect customer data from cyber attacks. By July 2019, all insurance companies in South Carolina must establish a security program for customer data and information.

3. Changes for Homeowners Associations
The 2018 S.C. Homeowners Association Act provides more disclosure for members of a homeowner’s association, including more transparency and access to information. Homeowners will be able to view written regulations, bylaws, and rules of the homeowner’s association before purchasing a home in the subdivision by checking the public record. As of January 10, 2019, homeowner’s association groups must file their governing documents with the county recorder’s office.

4. Manufacturers Will Save Money on Taxes
Manufacturers in South Carolina will receive a property tax break. The property tax on manufacturers is dropping from 10.5 percent to 9 percent. The property tax break for manufacturers, which began in 2018, is being phased in over six years.

5. Tax Credits for Gas and Car Maintenance
South Carolinians can take advantage of a tax credit for car maintenance or gas on their tax returns beginning in 2019. The gas tax in South Carolina is scheduled to increase by two cents per gallon in July of each year through July 2022. To offset some of the increased cost to residents, taxpayers can claim a tax credit for gas or car maintenance each year when they file the state income tax returns, beginning with 2018 state income tax returns.

To take advantage of the tax credit, taxpayers must keep receipts for gas purchases and vehicle maintenance. The tax credit is available for two cars, motorcycles, or trucks for what was paid in car maintenance or higher gas taxes, whichever is the lower amount.

South Carolina Business Lawyers Assist with Compliance Matters

South Carolina businesses must comply with a variety of state laws. Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today. Our South Carolina business lawyers help you ensure that your company complies with all current and upcoming laws to avoid potential legal and financial consequences.