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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. See our FAQ page for business license fees, hospitality fee and local accommodations tax fees.
NOTE: City Council has approved the following revised business license ordinance which took effect with the license year that began June 1, 2015.
Sec. 11-21. License Required.
Every person engaged or intending to engage in any calling, business, occupation or profession, in whole or in part, within the limits of the city is required to pay an annual license tax for the privilege of doing business and obtain a business license as herein provided, to include charitable and not-for-profit organizations as provided herein; .
Sec, 11-22. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this ordinance, shall have the meaning ascribed herein:
“Business” means a calling, occupation, profession, or activity engaged in with the object of gain, benefit or advantage, either directly or indirectly.
“Charitable Organization” means an organization that is determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from Federal income taxes under 26 U.S.C. section 501 (c) (3), (4), (6), (7), (8), (10) or (19).
“Charitable Purpose” means a benevolent, philanthropic, patriotic, or eleemosynary purpose which does not result in personal gain to a sponsor, organizer, officer, director, trustee or person with ultimate control of the organization.
“Classification” means that division of businesses by major groups subject to the same license rate as determined by a calculated index of ability to pay based on national averages, benefits, equalization of tax burden, relationships of services, or other basis deemed appropriate by the Council.
“Coin operated” when applied to any amusement device or vending machine means any device or machine operated by insertion of a coin or thing of value (including paper currency).
“Convention Center Use License” means a contract entered into by a private party with the Myrtle Beach Convention Center which conveys a temporary license for facility use and commercial activity within the boundaries of the Convention Center.
“Gross Income” means the total income of a business, received or accrued, for one calendar year collected or to be collected from business done within the Municipality, excepting therefrom income earned outside of the Municipality on which a license tax is paid to some other municipality or a county and fully reported to the Municipality. Gross income for agents means gross commissions received or retained, unless otherwise specified. Gross income for insurance companies means gross premiums written. Gross income for business license tax purposes shall not include taxes collected for a governmental entity, escrow funds, or funds which are the property of a third party. The value of bartered goods or trade-in merchandise shall be included in gross income. The gross income for business license purposes may be verified by inspection of returns and reports filed with the Internal Revenue Service, the South Carolina Department of Revenue, the South Carolina Department of Insurance, or other government agency.
“Hearing Officer” means a person or persons designated by the Manager to hear appeals of Licensees regarding assessments by the License Official.
“License Official” means a person designated by the Manager to administer this ordinance.
“Licensee” means the business, the person applying for the license on behalf of the business, an agent or legal representative of the business, a person who receives any part of the net profit of the business, or a person who owns or exercises control of the business.
“Municipality” means the City of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“Non-profit” or “not-for-profit” are organizations that have been chartered at the state level, and have filed the required formation documents with the Secretary of State’s office. This organization has a separate legal existence from its members. Just because an organization has registered as a non-profit or not-for-profit organization with the state, however, does not mean that it has obtained tax-exempt status, either from the state taxing agency or from the Internal Revenue Service.
“Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, LLP, LLC, cooperative non-profit 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 principal.
Sec. 11-23. Purpose and Duration.
The business license levied by this ordinance is for the purpose of providing such regulation as may be required for the business 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 ending May 31. The provisions of this ordinance and the rates herein shall remain in effect from year to year as amended by the Council.
Sec. 11.24. License Tax.
a. The required license tax shall be paid for each business subject hereto according to the applicable rate classification on or before the first (1st) day of June in each year, except for those businesses in Rate Class 8 for which a different due date is specified.
b. 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 tax shall be computed on the combined gross income for the classification requiring the highest rate. A license tax based on gross income shall be computed on the gross income for the preceding calendar or fiscal year, and on a twelve-month projected income based on the monthly average for a business in operation for less than one year. The tax 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. The initial tax for an annexed business shall be prorated for the number of months remaining in the license year. No refund shall be made for a business that is discontinued.
Sec. 11-25. Registration Required.
a. Excepting those operating under a paid Convention Center Use License obtained for the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, and only for those times and dates as set forth in Convention Center Use License, the owner, agent or legal representative of every business subject to this ordinance, 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; provided, a new business shall be required to have a business license prior to operation within the Municipality. A license for a bar (NAICS 722410) must be issued in the name of the individual who has been issued a State alcohol, beer or wine permit or license and will have actual control and management of the business.
b. Application shall be on a form provided by the License Official which shall contain the Social Security Number and/or the Federal Employer's Identification Number, the business name as reported on state or federal income tax returns, and all information about the applicant and the Licensee and the business deemed appropriate to carry out the purpose of this ordinance by the License Official. Applicants may be required to submit copies of portions of state and federal income tax returns reflecting gross income figures.
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, personal property taxes on business property and other monies due and payable to the Municipality have been paid.
e. All persons or legal entities engaging in rental of a single property or more shall register the business and make application under this Chapter. Short term or vacation rentals shall pay the state and local accommodations tax and hospitality fees, according to law.
f. All Charitable and Nonprofit Organizations shall register and make application and proof, as provided for under this Chapter.
Sec. 11-26. Deductions, Exemptions, Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations.
a. No deductions from gross income shall be made except income earned outside of the Municipality on which a license tax is paid to some other municipality or a county and fully reported to the Municipality, taxes collected for a governmental entity, or income which cannot be included for computation of the tax pursuant to State or Federal law. The applicant shall have the burden to establish the right to exempt income by satisfactory records and proof.
b. No person shall be exempt from the requirements of the ordinance by reason of the lack of an established place of business within the Municipality, unless exempted by State or Federal law. The License Official shall determine the appropriate classification for each business in accordance with the latest issue of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) for the United States published by the Office of Management and Budget. No person shall be exempt from this ordinance by reason of the payment of any other tax, unless exempted by State law, and no person shall be relieved of liability for payment of any other tax or fee by reason of application of this ordinance.
c. A Nonprofit or Charitable Organization shall be exempt from the business license tax on its gross income unless it is deemed a business subject to a business license tax on all or part of its gross income as provided in this section. A Nonprofit or Charitable Organization or any for-profit affiliate of a Nonprofit or Charitable Organization, that reports income from for-profit activities such as offering goods or services to the public, or unrelated business income, for federal income tax purposes to the Internal Revenue Service shall be deemed a business subject to a business license tax on the part of its gross income from such for-profit activities or unrelated business income.
d. A Nonprofit or Charitable Organization shall be deemed a business subject to a business license tax on its total gross income if (1) any net proceeds of operation, after necessary expenses of operation, inure to the benefit of any individual or any entity that is not itself a Nonprofit or Charitable Organization as defined in this ordinance, or (2) any net proceeds of operation, after necessary expenses of operation, are used for a purpose other than a Nonprofit or Charitable Purpose as defined in this ordinance. Excess benefits or compensation in any form beyond fair market value to a sponsor, organizer, officer, director, trustee or person with ultimate control of the organization shall not be deemed a necessary expense of operation.
Sec. 11-27. False Application Unlawful.
It shall be unlawful for any person subject to the provisions of this ordinance to make a misleading or false application for a business license, or to give or file, or direct the giving or filing of, any misleading or false information with respect to the license or tax required by this ordinance.
Sec. 11-28. Display and Transfer.
a. All persons shall display the license issued to them on the original form provided by the License Official in a conspicuous place in the business establishment at the address shown on the license. A transient or non-resident 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 Municipality.
c. A change of address must be reported to the License Official within ten (10) days after removal of the business to a new location and the license will be valid at the new address upon written notification by the License Official and compliance with zoning and building codes. Failure to obtain the approval of the License Official 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 controlling interest 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; penalties.
a. The License Official shall administer the provisions of this article, collect license taxes, issue licenses, make or initiate investigations and audits to insure compliance, initiate denial or suspension and revocation procedures, report violations to the appropriate governmental authorities, assist in prosecution of violators, produce forms, make reasonable regulations relating to the administration of this ordinance, and perform such other duties as may be duly assigned.
b. Any person violating any provision of this ordinance shall be deemed guilty of an offense and shall be subject to a fine of up to $500.00 or imprisonment for not more than thirty (30) days or both, upon conviction. Each day of violation shall be considered a separate offense. Punishment for violation shall not relieve the offender of liability for delinquent taxes, penalties and costs provided for herein.
Sec. 11-30. Inspection and Audits.
a. For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this ordinance, the License Official or other authorized agent of the Municipality is empowered to enter upon the premises of any person subject to this ordinance to make inspections, examine and audit books and records. 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 the licensee has filed false information, the costs of the audit shall be added to the correct license tax and late penalties in addition to other penalties provided herein. Each day of failure to pay the proper amount of license tax shall constitute a separate offense.
b. The License Official shall make systematic inspections and random audits of all businesses within the Municipality to insure compliance with the ordinance. Financial information obtained by inspections and audits shall not be deemed public records, and the License Official shall not release the amount of license taxes paid or the reported gross income of any person by name without written permission of the licensee, except as authorized by this ordinance, state or federal law, or proper judicial order. Statistics compiled by classifications are public records.
Sec. 11-31. Assessments, Payment under Protest, Appeal.
a. If a person fails to obtain a business license or to furnish the information required by this ordinance or the License Official, the License Official shall examine such records of the business or any other available records as may be appropriate, and conduct such investigations and statistical surveys as the License Official may deem appropriate to assess a license tax and penalties as provided herein.
b. A notice of initial assessment shall be served by certified mail to the address provided by the Licensee or the address ascertained by the best available records. The failure of the Licensee to sign for certified mail at the address provided does not constitute a bar to administrative action, as the applicant is deemed to have provided accurate information for contact having certified that information under oath, and having expressed consent to administrative oversight by submitting a sworn application for approval.
c. The initial assessment is subject to appeal only as provided herein. After receiving notice of an initial assessment, the licensee can apply for initial adjustment of the assessment, by asking for an administrative review by the License Official within fifteen (15) days after the date of the certified mailing or the assessment will become final. The application for an initial adjustment of the assessment must be accompanied by the payment in full of the assessment and any penalties under protest. The License Official shall establish a uniform procedure for the administrative hearing on an application for adjustment of assessment, and issuing a notice of final assessment.
d. Failure to seek an administrative hearing waives the right to appeal the final assessment to a Hearing Officer and to City Council.
Sec. 11-32. Delinquent License Taxes, Partial Payment.
a. For non-payment of all or any part of the correct license tax, the License Official shall issue an initial assessment and levy, and collect a late penalty of five (5%) percent of the unpaid tax for each month or portion thereof after the due date until paid;
b. The License Official shall give written notice to the Licensee or the person in control of the business within the Municipality by certified mail to the address provided in the application by the Licensee. The failure of the Licensee to sign for certified mail at the address provided does not constitute a bar to administrative action, as the applicant is deemed to have provided accurate information for contact having certified that information under oath, and having expressed consent to administrative oversight by submitting a sworn application for approval.
c. After receiving notice of an initial assessment, the licensee can apply for initial adjustment of the assessment, by asking for an administrative review by the License Official within fifteen (15) days after the date of the certified mailing or the assessment will become final. The application for an initial adjustment of the assessment must be accompanied by the payment in full of the assessment and any penalties under protest. The License Official shall establish a uniform procedure for the administrative hearing on an application for adjustment of assessment, and issuing a notice of final assessment.
d. Failure to seek an administrative hearing on the initial assessment waives the right to appeal the final assessment to a Hearing Officer and to City Council.
e. If any license tax remains unpaid for sixty (60) days after its due date, the License Official shall issue to the Licensee an execution, which shall constitute a lien upon the property, and shall report the execution to the municipal attorney for appropriate legal action, who shall act to collect the debt, including process in the same manner as prescribed by law for the collection of other taxes.
f. Partial payment may be accepted by the License Official to toll imposition of penalties on the portion paid; provided, however, no business license shall be issued or renewed until the full amount of the tax due, with penalties, has been paid.
g. Final assessments are subject to appeal, only as provided herein.
Sec. 11-33. Notices.
The License Official may, but shall not be required to, mail written notices that license taxes are due. In lieu of mailing, the License Official shall cause a public notice of the due date for business license renewal to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the municipality three (3) times prior to the due date in each year. Failure to receive personal notice or public notice shall not constitute a defense to prosecution for failure to pay the tax due or grounds for waiver of penalties, as it is presumed that the published law is sufficient notice.
Sec. 11-34. Denial of License.
a. The License Official shall deny a license to an applicant upon a determination that:
1. The application is incomplete, contains a misrepresentation, false or misleading statement, evasion or suppression of a material fact; or
2. The activity for which a license is sought is unlawful or constitutes a public nuisance per se or per accidens; or
3. The applicant, Licensee or prior Licensee or the person in control of the business has been convicted of an offense under a law or ordinance regulating business, a crime involving dishonest conduct or moral turpitude, or an unlawful sale of merchandise or prohibited goods; or
4. The applicant, Licensee or prior Licensee or the person in control of the business has engaged in an unlawful activity or nuisance related to the business or to a similar business in the Municipality or in another jurisdiction; or
5. The applicant, Licensee or prior Licensee or the person in control of the business is delinquent in the payment to the Municipality of any tax or fee; or
6. The license for the business or for a similar business of the Licensee in the Municipality or another jurisdiction has been denied, suspended or revoked in the previous license year; or
7. The license is sought on behalf of another person who has previously been denied or had a business license revoked because of unlawful activity or nuisance related to the business; or
8. The applicant has unpaid liens, taxes, fees and charges due and owing to the Municipality.
b. Denial of licenses are subject to appeal, as provided herein. Failure to timely appeal waives any right to contest the denial.
Sec. 11-35. Suspension or Revocation of License.
a. The License Official may suspend or revoke a business license upon determining 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 the license was issued or has failed to comply with the provisions of this ordinance; 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 dishonest conduct or 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; or
6. A Licensee is delinquent in the payment to the Municipality of any tax or fee.
b. Suspension or revocation are subject to appeal, as provided herein. Failure to timely appeal waives any right to contest the suspension or revocation.
Sec. 11-36. Appeals.
a. In determination of assessments, denial, suspension or revocation, the License Official shall give written notice to the Licensee or the person in control of the business within the Municipality by certified mail to the address provided in the application by the Licensee. The failure of the Licensee to sign for certified mail at the address provided does not constitute a bar to administrative action, as the applicant is deemed to have provided accurate information for contact having certified that information under oath, and having expressed consent to administrative oversight by submitting a sworn application for approval.
b. The notice of the License Official shall plainly set forth the action taken against the Licensee, and the basis for the decision.
1. In the matter of assessments, the notice shall set forth the amount due, and any penalty arising thereto, and the due date, and a copy of the ordinance relating to appeals.
2. In the matter of suspension pending revocation, the notice shall set forth that the license is suspended as of an effective date pending a hearing before City Council for the purpose of determining whether the license should be permanently revoked, or other such remedy as may be determined, and a copy of the ordinance relating to appeals.
3. In the matter of revocation, the notice shall set forth that the license is revoked as of an effective date pending a hearing before City Council for the purpose of determining whether the license should be permanently revoked, or other such remedy as may be determined, and a copy of the ordinance relating to appeals.
4. Any person aggrieved by a decision or final assessment by the License Official may appeal the decision by written request stating the reasons therefore, filed with the License Official within fifteen (15) days after the date of the mailing of the certified letter.
c. An appeal regarding final assessments may be made to a Hearing Officer by written request stating the reasons therefore, filed with the License Official within fifteen (15) days after the date of the certified mailing of License Official. An appeal hearing regarding final assessments shall be held by a Hearing Officer thirty (30) days after receipt of a request for appeal, unless continued by agreement of the Licensee and the Hearing Officer. At the 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 the Hearing Officer shall govern the hearing. The Hearing Officer, or the majority shall render a written decision based on findings of fact and application of the standards herein which shall be served by certified mail upon all parties or their representatives. Orders of the Hearing Officer regarding assessments shall be appealable to the City Council, as set forth below.
d. An appeal regarding a denial, suspension or revocation of a business license by the License Official, or an Order by a Hearing Officer may be made to the City Council by written request stating the reasons therefore, filed with the License Official within fifteen (15) days after the date of the certified mailing of the Order of the Hearing Officer, or within fifteen (15) days of the certified mailing of the denial, suspension or revocation of a business license by the License Official. The appeal shall be held by the City Council within thirty (30) days receipt of the licensee’s notice, at a regular or special meeting of which the applicant or licensee has been given written notice by the License Official, unless continued by agreement.
e. At the City Council 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 the City Council shall govern the hearing. The majority of City Council members present shall render a written decision based on findings of fact and application of the standards herein which shall be served upon all parties or their representatives. The order of City Council shall be the final decision of the Municipality.
Sec. 11-37. Consent, franchise or license required for use of streets.
a. It shall be unlawful for any person to construct, install, maintain or operate in, on, above or under any street or public place under control of the municipality any line, pipe, cable, pole, structure or facility for utilities, communications, cablevision or other purposes without a consent agreement or franchise agreement issued by the City Council by ordinance that prescribes the term, fees and conditions for use.
b. The annual fee for use of streets or public places authorized by a consent agreement or franchise agreement shall be set by the ordinance approving the agreement and shall be consistent with limits set by state law. Existing franchise agreements shall continue in effect until expiration dates in the agreements. Franchise and consent fees shall not be in lieu of or be credited against business license fees unless specifically provided by the franchise or consent agreement.
Sec. 11-38. 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 ordinance. 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. Any license data may be shared with other public officials or employees in the performance of their duties, whether or not those duties relate to enforcement of the license ordinance.
Sec. 11- 39. Classification and Rates.
a. The Class Structure Model by the North American Industry Classification System code, designated as Appendix B to this ordinance, and the Class Structure Model by rate class, designated as Appendix C to this ordinance, may be amended by the Council from time to time, and current copies shall be filed in the office of the municipal clerk. Appendices B and C are tools for classification and not a limitation on businesses subject to a license tax. The License Official shall determine the proper class for a business according to the applicable NAICS code.
b. The license tax for each class of businesses subject to this ordinance shall be computed in accordance with the Rate Schedule, designated as Appendix A to this ordinance, which may be amended by the Council from time to time and a current copy filed in the office of the municipal clerk.
(Ordinance 2014-49 – August 12, 2014)
For specific Business License classification and rate information, please call 843-918-1200.