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Business License Regulations
Local laws and ordinances
The following information represents part, but not all of the City Code pertaining to Business License requirements. For complete information, please contact the Business License office at 843-918-1200.
Sec. 11-21. Required:
Every person engaged in or intending to engage in any calling, business, occupation or profession listed in the rate classification index portion of this chapter, in whole or in part, within the limits of the city is required to pay an annual license fee and obtain a business license as provided in this article.
State law reference: Municipal authority to levy a business license tax, S.C. Code 1976, § 5-7-30.
Sec. 11-22. Definitions:
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Business means a calling, occupation, profession, or activity engaged in with the object of gain, benefit or advantage, either directly or indirectly. A charitable organization shall be deemed a business unless the entire proceeds of its operation are devoted to charitable purposes.
City means the City of Myrtle Beach.
Classification means that division of businesses bv major groups subject to the same license rate as determined by a calculated index of ability to pay, burden on services, benefits, equalization of overall tax burden, relationships of services, or other factors deemed appropriate by city council.
Gross income means the total revenue of a business, received or accrued, for one calendar year collected or to be collected by a business located within the city, excepting therefrom income from business done wholly outside of the city on which a license tax is paid to some other municipality or a county and fully reported to the city. The gross income for business license purposes may be verified by inspection of returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the state tax commission for income tax purposes, or the state insurance commission. In the case of brokers or agents, gross income shall mean gross commissions retained. Gross income from interstate commerce shall be included in the gross income for every business subject to a business license tax.
License inspector means the city finance director, or other person designated to administer this article.
Person means any individual, firm, partnership, cooperative nonprofit membership, corporation, joint venture, association, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, syndicate, holding company or other group or combination acting as a unit, in the singular or plural, and the agent or employee having charge or control of a business in the absence of the principals.
Sec. 11-23. Purpose and duration:
The business license levied by this article is for the purpose of providing such regulation as may be required by the businesses subject thereto and for the purpose of raising revenue for the general fund through a privilege tax. Each license shall be issued for one fiscal year and shall expire on May 3 1. The provisions of this article and the rates herein shall remain in effect from year to year as amended by city council.
Sec. 11-24. License fee:
The required license fee shall be paid for each business subject hereto according to the applicable rate classification on or before June 1st in each year, except that license fees for insurance companies and brokers for non-admitted insurers shall be payable on or before May 31st in each year without penalty. A separate license shall be required for each place of business and for each classification or business conducted at one place. If gross income cannot be separated for classifications at one location, the license fee shall be computed on the combined gross income for the classification requiring the highest rate. A license fee based on gross income shall be computed on the gross income for the preceding calendar or fiscal year, and on a 12-month projected income based on the monthly average for a business in operation for less than one year. The fee for a new business shall be computed on the estimated probable gross income stated in the license application for the balance of the license year.
Sec. 11-25. Registration required; contact information; proof of identity and employment eligibility
(a) The owner, agent or legal representative of every business subject to this article, whether listed in the classification index or not, shall register the business and make application for a business license on or before the due date of each year, except that a new business shall be required to have a business license prior to operation within the city. Application shall be on a form provided by the license inspector which shall contain the social security number and/or the federal employer's identification number, the business name as reported on the state or federal income tax return, and all information about the applicant and the business deemed necessary to carry out the purposes of this article by the license inspector.
(b) Specifically in regards to the registration and/or application, the license inspector may request the full and legal name, birth date, gender, personal addresses and contact information for any person, officer, landlord, tenant, property owner, lessor, sub-lessor, or agent pertaining to the business, or any other person who has ownership or financial interest in the business, or any other person who has decisional or management input, consultation, oversight or control of any portion of the business. In the case of a corporation, the license inspector may additionally request the true and complete name of the corporation, certified articles of incorporation, the incorporators, agents of service, officers, the state or county of its incorporation and its principal place of business.
(d) The applicant shall certify under oath that the information given in the application is true, that the gross income is accurately reported, or estimated for a new business, without any unauthorized deductions, and that all assessments and personal property taxes due and payable to the city have been paid. Insurance agents and brokers shall report the name of each insurance company for which a policy was issued and the total premiums collected for each company for each type of insurance coverage on a form approved by the license inspector. An insurance agent not employed by a company shall be licensed as a broker.
(f) Each business licensee, as a condition of issuance or renewal, must maintain full and accurate contact information for responsible persons on a form provided by the license inspector.
(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of law pertaining to denial, suspension or revocation of a business license, the failure to comply with any provision of this section shall constitute grounds for denial, suspension or revocation of the license.
(Ord. No. 91-24, § 5, 6-25-91; Ord. No. 2004-32, 5-11-04; Ord. No. 2007-54, 8-28-07)
Sec. 11-26. Deductions and exemptions:
No deductions from gross income shall be made except income from business done wholly outside of the city on which a license tax is paid to some other municipality or a county, or income which cannot be taxed pursuant to state or federal law. The applicant shall have the burden to establish the right to deduction by satisfactory records and proof. No person shall be exempt from the requirements of this article by reason of the lack of an established place of business within the city, unless exempted by state or federal law. The license inspector shall determine the appropriate classification for each business in accordance with the latest issue of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget Standard Industrial Classification Manual. No person shall be exempt from this article by reason of the payment of any other tax, unless exempted by state law, and no person shall be relieved of the liability for the payment of any other tax by reason of the application of this article. State and federal sales and excise taxes, escrowed funds, and allowances given for trade-in vehicles are not deemed income and are exempt from license calculations under this article.
Sec. 11-27. False application unlawful:
It shall be unlawful for any person subject to the provisions of this article to make a false application for a business license, or to give or file, or direct the giving or filing of any false information with respect to the license or fee required by this article.
Sec. 11-28. Display and transfer:
All persons shall display the license issued to them on the original form provided by the license inspector in a conspicuous place in the business establishment at the address shown on the license. A transient or nonresident shall carry the license upon his person or in a vehicle used in the business readily available for inspection by any authorized agent of the city. A change of address must be reported to the license inspector within ten days after removal of the business to a new location and the license will be valid at the new address upon written notification of the license inspector and compliance with zoning and building codes. Failure to obtain the approval of the license inspector for a change of address shall invalidate the license and subject the licensee to prosecution for doing business without a license. A business license shall not be transferable and a transfer of ownership shall be considered a termination of the old business and the establishment of a new business requiring a new business license, based on old business income.
Sec. 11-29. Administration of article:
The license inspector shall administer the provisions of this article, collect license fees, issue licenses, make or initiate investigations and audits to insure compliance, initiate denial or revocation procedures, report violations to the police department and assist in prosecution of violators, produce forms, make reasonable regulations relating to the administration of this article, and perform such other duties as may be duly assigned.
Sec. 11-30. Inspection and audits:
For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this article the license inspector or other authorized agent of the city is empowered to enter upon the premises of any person subject to this article to make inspections, examine and audit books and records, and it shall be unlawful for any such person to fail or refuse to make available the necessary books and records. In the event an audit or inspection reveals that false information has been filed by the licensee, the costs of the audit shall be added to the correct license fee and late penalties in addition to other penalties provided herein. Each day of failure to pay the proper amount of license fee shall constitute a separate offense. The license inspector shall make systematic inspections of all businesses within the city to ensure compliance with the article. Records of inspection and audits shall not be deemed public records, and the license inspector shall not release the reported gross income of any person by name without permission of the licensee, provided that statistics compiled by classifications may be made public.
Sec. 11-31. Assessments:
When any person shall have failed to obtain a business license or to furnish the information required by this article or the license inspector, the license inspector shall proceed to examine such records of the business or any other available records as may be appropriate and to conduct such investigations and statistical surveys as he may deem appropriate to assess a license tax and penalties as provided in this article. A notice of assessment shall be served by certified mail and an application for adjustment of the assessment may be made to the license inspector within five days after the notice is mailed or the assessment will become final. The license inspector shall establish by regulation the procedure for hearing an application for adjustment of assessment and issuing a notice of final assessment. A final assessment may be appealed to city council only by payment in full of the assessment under protest within five days and the filing of written notice of appeal within ten days after payment pursuant to the provisions of this article relating to appeals to city council.
Sec. 11-32. Delinquent license fees:
For nonpayment of all or any part of the correct license fee, the license inspector shall levy and collect a late penalty of five percent of the unpaid fee for each month or portion thereof after the due date until paid; provided however, that the late penalty to be collected for any one year's delinquent fee shall not exceed 30 percent of the fee due for that year. If any license fee shall remain unpaid for 60 days after its due date, the license inspector shall issue an execution which shall constitute a lien upon the property of the licensee for the tax, penalties and costs of collection, and shall proceed to collect in the same manner as prescribed by law for the collection of other taxes.
Sec. 11-33. Notices:
The license inspector may, but shall not be required to, mail written notices that license fees are due, but if notices are not mailed there shall be published a notice of the due date in a newspaper of general circulation within the city three times prior to the due date in each year.
Sec. 11-34. Denial of license:
The license inspector shall deny a license to an applicant when
(a) the application is incomplete, contains a misrepresentation, false or misleading statement, evasion or suppression of a material fact, or when
(b) the activity for which a license is sought is unlawful or constitutes a public nuisance, or when
(c) the applicant has unpaid liens, taxes, fees or charges due and owning to the city, or when
(d) the applicant makes the application on behalf of a person, or uses or employs a person who has ownership or financial interest in the business, or has decisional or management input, consultation, oversight or control of any portion of the business, and that person is engaging or has engaged in conduct or business practices that would have provided grounds for suspension or denial.
A decision of the license inspector shall be subject to appeal to city council as herein provided. Denial shall be written with reasons stated.
Sec. 11-35. Suspension or revocation of license:
When the license inspector determines that:
(1) A license has been mistakenly or improperly issued or issued contrary to law; or
(2) A licensee has breached any condition upon which his license was issued or has failed to comply with the provisions of this article; or
(3) A licensee has obtained a license through a fraud, misrepresentation, a false or misleading statement, evasion or suppression of a material fact in the license application; or
(4) A licensee has been convicted of an offense under a law or ordinance regulating business, a crime involving moral turpitude, or an unlawful sale of merchandise or prohibited goods; or
(5) A licensee has engaged in an unlawful activity or nuisance related to the business; the license inspector shall give written notice to the licensee or the person in control of the business within the city by personal service or certified mail that the license is suspended pending a hearing before city council for the purpose of determining whether the license should be revoked. The notice shall state the time and place at which the hearing is to be held, which shall be at a regular or special council meeting within 30 days from the date of service of the notice. The notice shall contain a brief statement of the reasons for suspension and proposed revocation and a copy of the applicable provisions of this article.
Sec. 11-36. Appeals to city council:
(a) Any person aggrieved by a final assessment or a denial of a business license by the license inspector may appeal the decision to city council by written request stating the reasons therefore filed with the license inspector within ten days after the payment of the assessment under protest or notice of denial is received.
(b) An appeal or a hearing on revocation shall be held by city council within 30 days after receipt of a request for appeal or service of notice of suspension at a regular or special meeting of which the applicant or licensee has been given written notice. At such hearing all parties shall have the right to be represented by counsel, to present testimony and evidence and to cross examine witnesses. The proceedings shall be recorded and transcribed at the expense of the party so requesting. The rules of evidence and procedure prescribed by council shall govern the hearing. City council shall by majority vote of members present render a written decision based on findings of fact and the application of the standards herein which shall be served upon all parties or their representatives and shall be final unless appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction within ten days after service.
(c) No person shall be subject to a prosecution for doing business without a license until the expiration of ten days after notice of denial or revocation which is not appealed or until after final judgment of a circuit court upholding denial or revocation.
Sec. 11-37. Confidentiality:
Except in accordance with proper judicial order or as otherwise provided by law, it shall be unlawful for any official or employee to divulge or make known in any manner the amount of income or any particulars set forth or disclosed in any report or return required under this article. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular reports or returns.
Sec. 11-38. Violations:
Any person violating any provisions of this article shall be deemed guilty of an offense and shall be subject to punishment in accordance with section 1-9. Punishment for violation shall not relieve the offender of liability for delinquent taxes, penalties and costs provided for herein.
For specific Business License classification and rate information, please contact any of the following:
Mary McDowell, Assistant Finance Director, 843-918-1175
Kristi Evans, Business License Supervisor/Accountant, 843-918-1218
Frankie O'Harrow, Code Enforcement Officer, 843-918-1151