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SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax)
The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) program represents a way for Camden County to raise funds for projects, which would otherwise be funded by property taxes. As a one-cent sales tax, money is raised for county improvements anytime an item is purchased in Camden County - by residents or by visitors to our county. This means that non-residents will pay a sizable portion of the total tax.
The SPLOST law was enacted in 1985 at the request of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG). The SPLOST was conceived of and was enacted as a county tax for funding capital projects. It is not a municipal tax; nor is it a joint county-municipal tax like the regular Local Option Sales Tax (LOST). As a county tax, a SPLOST can only be initiated by the Board of Commissioners [O.C.G.A. § 48-8-110 and Op. Attorney General U85-24].
SPLOST is an optional one percent county sales tax used to fund capital outlay projects proposed by the county government and participating qualified municipal governments. County and municipal governments may not use SPLOST proceeds for operational expenses or maintenance of a SPLOST project or any other county or municipal facility or service. Technically, the SPLOST is levied in what the law refers to as a special districts comprising the entire territory of the county calling for the SPLOST.
The tax is imposed when the County Board of Commissioners calls a local referendum (i.e., vote) in conformance with O.C.G.A. § 48-8-111 and the referendum is subsequently passed by the voters within that special district (i.e., county). The tax is collected on items subject to the state sales and use tax within the county, including the sale of motor fuels as defined in O.C.G.A.§ 48-9-2. The SPLOST is also imposed on the sale of food and beverages, which are not subject to the state sales tax [O.C.G.A. §48-8-3 (57) (D) (1)].
Several factors determine the length of time that a SPLOST may be imposed. In general, the tax may be levied for up to five years. If the county and qualified municipalities enter into an intergovernmental agreement, the tax may be imposed for six years. If no intergovernmental agreement exists and a “Level One” project is included, then the tax must run:
- for five years, if the estimated cost of all “Level One” projects is less than 24 months of estimated revenues; or
- for six years, if the estimated cost of all “Level One: projects equals more than 24 months of estimated revenues.
Once the tax ends, it can be immediately continued without a gap in collections if a new referendum is timely held in which the voters approve the new SPLOST.