Aiken Mayor Pro Tempore Ed Woltz must pay the city business license taxes on his rental properties and fill out a business license application for those rental properties.
Hearing officer Kelly Zier rejected Woltz’s appeal of the city’s assessment of business license taxes on his rental properties from 2018-22 Wednesday and ordered Woltz, his wife, Holly, and a company Woltz owns, S&C Properties LLC, to pay business license taxes owed and fill out a business license application for the rental properties.
The amount Woltz must pay the city is unclear.
In his order, Zier said Woltz, his wife, Holly, and S&C owed the city $13,086.56 as of June 8. He added Woltz and his wife owe $6,503.88 and the total for S&C is $6,582.68.
But, Zier also said Woltz paid the city $11,477.63 Sept. 15, 2022. And it’s unknown if Woltz owes an additional $13,086.56 or $1,608.93 ($13,086.56-$11,477.63) because the city blacked out the amount Woltz must pay from a copy of the order provided to the Aiken Standard.
The hearing was held June 8. Rob Tyson and Jasmine Smith of Robinson Gray, a Columbia law firm, represented the city. Clarke McCants III of the Aiken law firm Nance and McCants represented Woltz.
In his appeal, Woltz made four arguments: the city’s assessments were barred by the statute of limitations, that the city’s business license tax is so vague it is unconstitutional, that the city’s business license policies violate the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions and he was entitled to attorney’s fees for filing the appeal.
The statute of limitations is a mechanism limiting the amount of time legal proceedings may be initiated. The statute of limitations in business license tax appeals is three years.
“Here, the statute of limitations does not bar the City’s claim,” Zier said in the order.
Zier said Woltz was notified of the issue in December 2019 when the city’s business license office sent S&C asking him to fill out a business tax application for the 10 rental properties and that the statute of limitations didn’t begin to run until it was apparent Woltz wasn’t going to pay.
Zier said the city’s business license ordinance was “clear and unambiguous.” He said Woltz, his wife, Holly, and S&C Properties operate an activity within the city for benefit or gain that constitutes a business under the business license ordinance and are, accordingly, required to pay a license tax and obtain a business license for the rental properties.
Woltz’s argued the business license tax ordinance violated the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions because the city has a policy of not requiring business licenses for owners of one rental residential property to pay business license taxes and the city assessed business license taxes on income earned outside of the city.
“The City is within its authority to tax businesses that rent two or more residential properties and decline to tax those who only have one residential rental property,” Zier said.
Zier added the ordinance, specifically section 12-39, provided the business license administrators with the ability to create and undertake reasonable procedures regarding the enforcement of the ordinance.
The business license ordinance requires business owners who operate a business inside and outside of the city to provide proof that income earned outside of the city has been earned outside of the city and business license taxes were paid to earn that income.
Zier said Woltz, his wife, Holly, and S&C Properties didn’t meet the burden to prove they paid business license taxes to another governmental entity.
He added Woltz failed to pay business license taxes, the city didn’t violate any of his constitutionally protected rights and, therefore, Woltz was not entitled to attorney’s fees.