Freeze on business license penalties proving costly to the city

VIDEO: Freeze on business license penalties proving costly to the city

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - For Charleston businesses who haven't renewed their 2020 licenses, the fees for those late renewals have now been extended until 2021.

Officials with the City of Charleston say there are still about 1,500 businesses in the city that have not paid for their 2020 business license. Thats about 10% of all Charleston businesses.

City officials say this year the number of businesses who have not renewed their licenses is higher than past years, but they are not sure why. Also, because of the deadline extension, they will not know how many businesses are planning to close their doors permanently until 2021.

These business licenses account for about $30 million in the city's budget, with an additional $400,000 estimated in business license late fees.

However, city officials say they are freezing these late fees at 5% instead of increasing the fee monthly as they normally do. They say they’ve chosen not to penalize because businesses have had serious revenue losses due to COVID-19 and they want to help where they can.

The City of Charleston plans to go back to the normal structure for business licenses fees in January of 2021.

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