Are you new to South Carolina? Just bought a house here in South Carolina for the first time? This information is important to get you on the right path here in South Carolina.
4% Home Property County Tax EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
Property owners who occupy a property as their primary legal residence qualify for the 4% rate. However, you don’t get that rate automatically. Property owners must apply for the primary residence rate with the county assessor’s office and provide documentation showing that the property is the owner’s legal primary residence. Property owners are only required to apply for the 4% rate once for each property but can only qualify for that rate on one property at a time. Residential real estate that is owned for use as a second home, rental property or other type of investment property is generally taxed at 6%. Active-Duty Military members who are not living in their home must apply each year (by the tax penalty date) for the current tax year in which you are applying.
In order to apply for the 4% tax rate, you must have these items, where applicable, when you apply:
- Must have a valid South Carolina driver's license or South Carolina ID card
- Copy of all Vehicle registrations (which must have been tagged in South Carolina and have a valid South Carolina title)
- Copy of a utility bill with your name and the address of your residence here in The Ponds
- Copy of the Recorded Divorce or Separate Maintenance & Support Documents, if applicable.
- Copy of Leased Vehicle Registrations with Valid Dates, if applicable
- Is the property held in Trust? If so, a copy of the ENTIRE Trust and any related documentation must be provided with application
- Is the Property owned by an LLC? If so, documentation must be provided with members names and the relationship of the members.
If you missed getting this done prior to the tax year, it is now possible to obtain a refund from a previous year providing you can provide the valid documents showing you had them in that/those year(s) and produce tax returns showing you filed as a South Carolina resident.
You can apply online. View this website address for more information:
Not filing for this tax rate will cause your property tax to be double or even triple what you would pay with the 4% tax rate. Why? Because South Carolina assumes that people with homes that they are not primarily living in are not here spending money buying things and paying South Carolina sales tax. Residents get a property tax reduction for the school system only because there are State and County sales tax funds going to the school system. So, to make up for that, you pay the full fare home property tax.
There are also other factors that may affect how a property owner is taxed. For instance, if a property owner occupies their real estate as a primary residence, is over the age of 65 and/or totally and permanently disabled and/or legally blind and has been a resident of the State for at least a year, the property owner may also qualify for the Homestead Exemption, which gives the property owner an exemption on the first $50,000.00 in Fair Market Value of the property. A property owner may also qualify for the Homestead Exemption if they are totally and permanently disabled or legally blind. Veterans may also qualify for exemptions.
Details are located on the Dorchester County website on this page: https://dor.sc.gov/lgs/homestead-exemption
Contact information for the Dorchester County Auditor's office mentioned on the Homestead Exemption web page can be found at:
Personal Property Tax
Personal Property: Includes motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft and business personal property furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Taxes are calculated based on 10.5% of the Fair Market Value of your vehicle.
The South Carolina Department of Revenue provides each county with assessment guides that are required to be used as a first source to value vehicles. The second source is the NADA Vehicle Guide. These values are multiplied by the assessment ratio set by the Law to determine the amount of taxes owed on a vehicle. The assessed value is then multiplied by the millage rate to determine the amount of taxes owed on a vehicle.
Property tax on motor and recreational vehicles must be paid before the license plates can be renewed. The renewal month is the month that the vehicle was originally registered in. If the vehicle is new to the State or if you have purchased it from an individual, it’s required by Law to pay the property taxes and have the vehicle registered within 45 days.
The county will automatically send you the vehicle property tax bill separatley from your residence property tax. Once you pay the vehicle tax, the DMV will send you the registration and tag decals for the current year.
You may apply for the high mileage discount by completing the high mileage portion of the tax bill. This may be mailed, faxed, or emailed. According to State Law, you must request the high mileage discount on or before the last day if the month in which your license plate expires. The high mileage chart for Dorchester County can be viewed at:
Moving to South Carolina DMV Information
South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has a website just for people moving into South Carolina. It explains what you need to know to title and register your vehicles in South Carolina. You MUST do this since it is a prerequisite for obtaining residency and applying for the resident property tax rate. The page address is: http://www.scdmvonline.com/Vehicle-Owners/Moving-To-SC
In order to transfer your title and registration, your vehicle personal property taxes must have already been paid. If you take your vehicle title to the county assessors department, they can issue a bill for the personal property taxes that are owed for the vehicle as a requirement of a title and registration transfer. You then pay this bill at the cashiers in the same county building. You can do both of these at the Summerville County office building:
500 N. Main St.
Summerville, SC 29483
You can still trade in your old driver's license and get a new South Carolina drivers license before transferring your car title and registration.