The Power of the Penny
- Sales Tax News
- Dec 18, 2015 | Gail Cole
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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