Student housing as the main source of property taxes in Columbia, SC

Hub at Columbia | Photo by @lifestylebycore

You may associate Columbia with being a college town because of UofSC’s position in the city, but did you know student housing is now the main source of property taxes?

Student housing brings in $47 million in taxable value. Three student complexes alone account for 22% — approx. $10.5 million — of that total. Columbia currently has 10 student housing complexes with 3 more on the way, including a $210 million dollar project, Campus Village, the University’s largest student housing project in history.

Before moving forward, let’s go back to see how student housing became the main source of property taxes for Columbia. 

Timeline: 

  • 2014: Columbia City Council passed a resolution on March 4, stating a 10-year, 50% tax cut could only apply to privately owned student housing projects if those developments met certain criteria. 
  • 2015: Columbia extended the tax break to market-rate rental housing developments until the end of 2015.
  • 2017: Four student housing developers were approved to receive the 10-year tax break for their properties. 
  • 2019: City Council mimicked 2015 tax break, and passed a new tax break. The tax break was extended to large commercial and residential projects, giving them an up-to 50% joint property tax break for 10 years as long as the developments exceeded $30 million in investment and they spent the money saved on improvements to benefit the general public.
  • 2021: Tax breaks will begin to expire in 2027, so it will take some time to fully see the impact of these tax breaks. Mayor Steve Benjamin thinks over the next decade, hundreds of millions of dollars will come back to benefit public schools, support police + fire departments, and all the things that go into having a city function properly.