It’s tax season – remember your state forests

  • Friday, January 17, 2014

Columbia – The South Carolina Forestry Commission is urging tax filers to remember the forest when submitting their state returns.

This tax season marks the fourth year taxpayers anticipating a refund will have an option to contribute all or part of it to sustaining state owned forestlands. The General Assembly passed an income tax check off creating the SC State Forests Fund during the 2010 Legislative Session.

“We’ve been able to launch a number of improvement projects at our state forests thanks to the generosity of South Carolina tax filers,” says Scott Hawkins of the Commission’s public information office.

A solar power project at Harbison State Forest in Columbia, a new fishing pier on Hunter Pond at Sand Hills State Forest in Patrick, SC, and new permanent restroom facilities for the Manchester State Forest rifle range in Sumter County are just some of the projects completed or underway.

The Commission manages six state forests to demonstrate that (well managed, sustainable) forestland can be fiscally and ecologically productive. Forestry and timber-related businesses account for most of the economic impact of the state’s manufacturing sector.

“Historically, landowners have looked to our state forests as role models,” says Hawkins. “As they set their own land management goals, they have the state forests to look to as living examples of the numerous benefits provided by sustainable forests.”

Because South Carolina’s state forest system relies on timber sales and recreational permit revenue for operating funds (receiving zero state dollars), this income tax check off revenue allows the SC Forestry Commission to make improvements that would not otherwise be possible.

Line 28 of State Tax Form 1040 allows the tax filer to contribute some or all of a refund toward any organization or agency listed on Form I-330. A description of the SC Forests Fund is now among them. By checking the Forests Fund, tax filers will be helping to support the six state forests managed by the Commission:

Sand Hills State Forest -- 47,000 acres in Chesterfield County

Manchester State Forest – 29,000 acres in Sumter County

Wee Tee State Forest – 12,400 acres including 12 miles of frontage along the serene Santee River in Williamsburg and Georgetown counties

Harbison State Forest -- 2,176 acres located in the City of Columbia along the scenic Broad River

Poe Creek State Forest – 2,500 acres in Pickens and Oconee counties

Niederhof State Forest – 1,600 acres in Jasper County

“The Forestry Commission is the only state agency whose lands are entirely self-supporting,” says Mike Shealy, the Commission’s state lands manager. “Operating revenue is generated on-site and 25 percent of that is paid to the local school districts in lieu of property taxes.”

Additionally, the Forestry Commission has tax tips for forest landowners at its website: www.trees.sc.gov.

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