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Kiawah Property Sale: Largest Tax Rip Off Yet
7/30/2014 4:18:55 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

Have you ever woke up and jump started your day with such positive energy that you felt nothing is going to steal my joy today, absolutely nothing. Your day is off to a good start and then whammo something comes from out of nowhere and turns your day upside down?

Well that is what happened to me last week after reading an online article by Tyrone Richardson in the Post Courier. A portion of his headline read “Largest Residential Sale on Kiawah Island”. Frankly speaking, I think it is the largest tax rip off in recent history.

Here you have the Royal family that owned a seven acre beachfront property on Kiawah Island that sold for $22 million dollars. The property has a 250 feet view of the Atlantic Ocean yet they were paying only $12.75 in taxes. Two Hundred fifty feet view of the Atlantic Ocean is hardly what I would call timberland no matter how many trees are on it.

I am deeply perplexed by the low taxes as well as the laws that make a mockery out of the system by the rich. I can’t believe the Royal family has been paying almost no taxes over the years on such valuable beachfront property. Over the years, the property had been designated as agriculture and the owners took advantage of an age old tax law on the books to avoid paying fair market value taxes.

I am familiar with taxes, all too familiar, because I pay more than my fair share just like most hard working folks. I bought a half acre lot with a building in the County of Charleston that is zoned CC (Community Commercial) and my tax bill is over $3,000. Do the math! If the Royal family that owned the Kiawah property paid $12.75 a year in taxes it would take them a little over 235 years to pay what I am paying a year.

On the other hand if I were to continue to pay the minimum of $3,000 a year in taxes for the next 235 years, my heirs and I would have paid $705,000. However, since taxes only increases over a period of time, that figure would be well over a million dollars.

There is definitely something wrong with that picture. Here the Royals have a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean. They can go for strolls on the beach, bask in the sun and just enjoy nature. That to me is priceless.

Now, let’s see what all I can do on my land that is zoned community commercial. Nothing but work! I can do absolutely nothing other than work my butt off while swatting mosquitoes. There is no breeze coming in off the ocean.

My view is highway 61 and thousands of cars that pass by daily. I have to pay for a permit and get permission to re-do and design my yard sign and permission to paint the interior and exterior of my building.

I pay double and sometimes triple taxes with very little say and these “agriculture tax dodgers” get away with paying $12.75 a year in taxes. I think the law is ludicrous and was designed to protect the wealthy. It forces other law abiding taxpayers to pay more than their fair share of taxes to compensate for agriculture tax dodgers.

I am not against the agriculture land designation for what is classed as true farmland but beachfront property is a luxury that so few people can afford. The irony of the situation is this. If I could afford to own a piece of beachfront property I would not be able to afford the taxes. And, do you really think seven acres qualify as agriculture land?

In the scheme of things when you compare seven acres to most farmlands, it pales in comparison. And let’s not forget, we are talking about a “secluded lot in a gated millionaire community”. When since seven acres become a lot? I guess I have a “lot” to learn. Give me a break—a tax break at that.

It is no wonder why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It’s by design. You see the same folks who make the laws, make them to their advantage.

And once the laws are made they never revisit those antiquated laws on the books to make changes because it would impact their profit margin. Are y’all with me so far?

At some point before development came to Kiawah Island, the land may have legally qualified for the designation but after the island grew into a major tourist attraction and home for the elite, the designation should have changed and the owners should have been taxed based upon the value of beachfront property.

Y’all lawmakers who seem to be asleep and don’t seem to have anything to do, make this tax disparity your next project. Now, have a good day!

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