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The Power of the Penny


 They can add up.

Pennies impact people. Put together, they can fund new bike paths, the widening of roads, and a variety of other transportation and infrastructure improvements. Mishandled, they can lead to corruption, fraud, and waste. Alas, this is what allegedly happened to the Penny Program in Richland County, South Carolina.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue requested an audit of the Penny Program last spring. Its findings raised questions of “potential public corruption and fraud.” An example provided by The State: two firms are receiving $600,000 a year for five years ($3 million in all) “for public information services about the penny sales tax.”

As Revenue Director Rick Reames III noted, “An entire public information office already exists within Richland County government …(to) provide public relations services.”

The Penny Program began in 2013. If it remains in place for 22 years, it should raise $1 billion. For transportation improvements, not for pockets.

Richland County officials are reportedly cooperating with the Department of Revenue and have asked for more information on the audit findings. They insist there has been no fraudulent activity.

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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.