Incentives & Financing
Charleston County enjoys a reputation as a premiere pro-business location in the Southeast, and our robust financial incentives are part of that reputation. Learn more about specific incentives and programs for your business below:
Some financial incentives available within South Carolina are statutory and are claimed directly by your company when you file your state corporate income taxes to include five-year property tax abatement, sales tax exemptions, job tax credits, corporate headquarters credit and research & development credit.
Other financial incentives are negotiated with Charleston County and the state of South Carolina. They are typically dependent upon the capital investment, hiring and payroll involved in a new project or expansion. Eligible businesses might qualify for Fee-in-lieu of taxes (FILOT) or Job Development Credits.
Grants to introduce, upgrade or extend roads, water and sewer service or to underwrite site development costs can be made available on substantial relocation or expansion projects. Set-aside grants are awarded by the South Carolina Coordinating Council for Economic Development. These grants are discretionary and are attached to economic development projects that may be used for public infrastructure, site clearing, and other project-related purposes.
Other money-saving opportunities
- Workforce training and development programs
- Foreign Trade Zones (Port of Charleston)
- Gap financing from the Berkeley – Charleston – Dorchester Council of Governments’ Revolving Loan Fund
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 created a tax incentive designed to spur investment in economically distressed communities. As a result, 25 percent of economically distressed census tracts in every state are now designated as qualified opportunity zones (QOZs). These QOZs are eligible for investments by Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs). A Qualified Opportunity Fund invests a majority of its funds in eligible investments located within a QOZ. Individual investors and organizations that reinvest their realized capital gains in a QOF receive up to three tax benefits:
- Temporary deferral of capital gains tax on the investment up until December 31, 2026 (or until investment is sold)
- Potential to reduce the amount of capital gains tax owed or “Step-Up in Basis.” The guidelines specify two holding periods. At 5-years, the basis is increased by 10 percent. At 7-years, the basis is increased to 15 percent. The amounts represent potential reduction in capital gains tax owed.
- Permanent Exclusion from taxable income from capital gains. When the initial investment is held for 10-years, the investor does not have to pay capital gains tax on taxable income realized from holding the investment in a QOF.
Where are Charleston County’s qualified opportunity zone located?
There are eight census tracts designated as qualified opportunity zones in Charleston County, South Carolina. The zones are located in the “Neck” and the “Peninsula” areas of the Cities of Charleston, SC and North Charleston, SC and at the western-most border of Charleston County near the Parkers Ferry, Jericho and Adams Run communities. A full list of approved census tracts for South Carolina can be found at scopportunityzone.com
There are many resources on opportunity zones at both the state and national level. The resources below are a good starting point for conducting initial research. Make sure to confirm data used as a basis for potential investment decisions with the appropriate legal adviser or government agency.
- South Carolina Department of Commerce’s Opportunity Zone
- White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council’s Opportunity Zone
- National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) Opportunity Zone Fund Directory