Gov. McMaster announces tax reform for 'those who serve in uniform'

Gov. McMaster announces tax reform for 'those who serve in uniform'

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster held a brief news conference Friday morning to announce a tax reform proposal for those who serve in uniform.

McMaster wants tens of thousands of men and women in uniform exempt from state income tax, a change that could mean millions of dollars in tax savings for retirees.

Agencies from the Highway Patrol to individual sheriff's departments, firefighters, and military veterans applaud the idea McMaster presented in Lexington Friday morning.

"I'm of age where I'm getting close to retirement, and it will certainly help my family," Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said. "And it's going to certainly help a lot of the first responders out there."

McMaster's proposal is to exempt the money men and women in uniform make in retirement from state income tax. He says it's one step towards more appreciation.

"But it's like sleeping in a 6-foot bed with a 4-foot blanket. There's just not enough money to do all that we want to do," McMaster said.

In fiscal year 2018-2019, 20,370 law enforcement first responders, and firefighter retirees would be tax exempt. That's $8,563,000 in tax.

Add this to the $14,079,176 for military veterans, and the total tax savings for those retired under this plan is about $22 million.

Sheriffs like Lexington County's Jay Coon says the money saved could be a benefit to attract new hires when nearly every department in the state is short. His department is looking for 39 deputies to patrol the community and staff the detention center.

"It's all relative to the size of your department," Coon said. "We're all hurting for good people."

The plan is a budget request, so it still needs lawmakers' vote to take effect.

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