COLUMBIA, S.C. — More than 120,000 South Carolina taxpayers have taken advantage of the state's first motor fuel income tax credit, receiving $1.8 million in credits, according to preliminary figures.
South Carolina Department of Revenue preliminary data as of May 3 shows 120,585 taxpayers have received $1.834 million in motor fuel income tax credits. The amount of the claimed credits is well below the $40 million cap set by lawmakers for the credit's first year.
The data is preliminary, because taxpayers filing extensions have until Oct. 15 to file their returns.
"We're pleased more than 120,000 taxpayers benefited from the motor fuel income tax credit during its first year," said SCDOR director Hartley Powell. "This credit allows taxpayers to receive a benefit for the increased fee they pay at the pump. We expect more taxpayers to file for this credit as the fee increases again next year."
The $1.8 million in credits was claimed in 77,744 returns. The credits amount to 4.5 percent of the 2018 cap, which increases in 2019 to $65 million.
According to the data, the group that filed for motor fuel income tax credits included 43,011 married couples filing joint returns, 22,902 single taxpayers, 2,355 married couples filing single returns and 9,262 head of household returns.
The average credit per return was $23.65, while the average per taxpayer was $15.21, according to the data. The average credit is expected to rise next year because of the increased motor fuel user fee that goes into effect this summer.
The motor fuel income tax credit went into effect in January 2018 to offset the increased motor fuel user fee established by lawmakers in the South Carolina Infrastructure and Economic Development Reform Act.
From July 1, 2017, when the motor fuel user fee increased, through March 2019, more than $615 million has been deposited in the state Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, including $172.4 million in increased motor fuel user fee revenues, according to figures from the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
The $.02 per gallon increase began on July 1, 2017, and will increase by the same amount every year on July 1 until 2022.
Eligible taxpayers can get a credit on the lesser of the increase in the motor fuel user fee, which is paid when purchasing gas, or preventative maintenance costs during the same year.
The credit is available for expenses tied to a vehicle registered in South Carolina in the name of a resident taxpayer. The qualifying gas or maintenance work must be purchased in South Carolina.
To claim the credit, taxpayers should save all South Carolina receipts of gas purchases and vehicle maintenance expenses, whether by pump receipt, credit card statements, or invoices. Since gas pump receipts can become illegible over time, taxpayers may want to photocopy their receipts. The receipts are not to be sent to the SCDOR, but taxpayers should save them for their records.
The gas receipts should show the number of gallons purchased in South Carolina. The maintenance receipts should show the car model, amount, and type of work performed in South Carolina.
The credit is claimed on the I-385, available at dor.sc.gov/forms and included in many vendors’ online filing products.