Q. Why do we pay property tax?
A. Property tax is collected by local government to provide for the many services most of us take for granted. Schools, police and fire protection and public libraries are possible because of revenue from the property tax. We all pay our share of the cost of these services by paying tax in proportion to the value of our property.
Q: How is my tax bill calculated?
A: To calculate a tax bill, first deduct any exemptions that may apply from the assessed value; thus generating a net assessed (taxable) value. Next, the net assessed value is multiplied by the millage rate to get the tax dollar amount due.
Q: What are the various assessment rates currently in use?
A: The current assessment ratios for the state of South Carolina are as follows based on fair market value:
Primary Residences 4%
Other Real Estate 6%
Personal Property (Watercraft, Aircraft, Campers, Business Personal Property) 10.5%
Commercial boats 5%
Primary-residence Boats 4%
Agricultural Property (privately owned) 4%
Agricultural Property (corporate owned) 6%
Manufacturing & Utility Property 10.5%
Railroad, Airline, & Pipeline Property 9.5%
Motor Vehicle 6.00% - 10.5%
Motor Homes (See County Auditor for details on the 6% rate.) 6% - 10.5%
Q. What is the Homestead Exemption program?
A. In 1972, the S. C. General Assembly passed the Homestead Exemption law which provides property tax relief for South Carolinians who are over 65, or totally and permanently disabled . The exemption excludes the first $50,000 from the fair market value of your legal residence.
Q: How do I qualify for the Homestead Exemption?
A: You may qualify for the Homestead Exemption if you:
ARE at least 65 years of age on or before December 31, preceding the tax year in which you wish to claim the exemption; OR
ARE certified totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency; OR
ARE legally blind; AND
ARE a legal resident of South Carolina for at least one year on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption; AND
HOLD fee simple title or partial title to your house, mobile home, or life estate on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption, and have been approved to receive the 4% legal residence tax assessment ratio, AND
WERE a legal residence of South Carolina for one year
Q: What property is included in the Active Duty Military Exemption and how do I apply?
A: If your home of record is not South Carolina, you do not have to pay personal property taxes on property which you own while permanently stationed in this state. This exemption does not include county taxes on real property. The exemption covers motor vehicles (including trucks), campers, motor homes, boats and outboard motors, personal recreational watercraft (like wave-runners and jet-skis), aircraft and mobile homes (occupied by the owner). The property must be singularly titled in the name of the military service member in order to qualify for a 100% exemption. If there is a non military co-owner, only 50% of the exemption will be applied. In order for your mobile home to be qualified, it must be the service member's primary residence. To obtain the exemption, the service member must submit their latest Leave & Earnings Statement and a copy of their Military ID to the County Auditor Office. The exemption is valid for only one year, so you will need to reapply every year.
Q. I have two houses, and am receiving discounts on one but not the other. Can I receive it on both?
A. No. State law provides that property tax exemptions and discounts apply only to the one legal residence of an eligible owner. (Note: married couples are eligible for only one legal residence.)
Q. Do senior citizens get property tax discounts on vehicles?
A. Property taxes are governed by state law in South Carolina. Currently, state law does not allow discounts to senior citizens for vehicle property taxes.
Q.Why am I getting a tax bill on a car I just bought from a dealer? Were not taxes and tags included?
A. When a dealer sells you a vehicle, the taxes that are included are “sales” tax. The bill that you received is for county property taxes. You have a 120 day grace period from the date of purchase of your new vehicle in which to pay the county property tax due on your vehicle. If you do not pay the taxes due by the due date, a notice will be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your drivers license. If your drivers license is suspended for non-payment of property taxes and you also hold a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), it will also be affected by the suspension.
Q. Why do I have to pay taxes on my vehicle when I have turned in the tags and/or the vehicle has not been in use?
A. You pay taxes on what you “own”, not what you drive. As long as the vehicle is still registered in your name and has not been traded, junked or sold, you are responsible for paying the property taxes.
Q: If I want to transfer my license plate to a replacement vehicle, what do I now do?
A: Take the registration for your previous vehicle along with the title to your replacement vehicle to the Division of Motor Vehicles and register your replacement vehicle. You will not need to pay property taxes on the replacement vehicle until the registration on your previous vehicle expires.
Vehicle taxes are due the month your tag expires. In order to obtain a valid decal for your license plate, vehicle taxes must be paid. Your vehicle may qualify for a discount if you have high mileage. The mileage must be certified to the Auditor on or before the due date to qualify.
If your vehicle is over 15 years old, it does not qualify for the high mileage reduction. The value is already at a minimum charge.
High mileage may only be claimed when your vehicle is up for renewal and has to be appealed before the due date on your tax notice. Vehicles that classify as “350” or “3,500” series or higher are unable to qualify for high mileage. (Section 56-3-630) Motorcycles, campers and motor homes cannot qualify for high mileage.
The high mileage discount for dealer notices comes from the Affidavit & Notification of Motor Vehicles.
Churches and other Non-Profit Organizations must file with the South Carolina Department of Revenue to be exempt.
Disabled Veterans that have a 100% service connected disability should file through the Office of Veteran Affairs.
Persons who are over 65 or are totally and permanently disabled should contact the County Auditor about exemptions.