Property Taxes for in South Carolina: Everything You Need to Know

South Carolina Property Taxes

In 2017, the homeownership rate in South Carolina was 68.7%. The median property value stood at $161,800, which was a 5.3% increase from 2016. 

One responsibility each homeowner must face is paying property taxes each year. And if you’re moving to South Carolina and planning on buying property, you need to know about South Carolina property taxes since they’re state-specific. 

This way, you can calculate whether or not you can afford the property you’re looking to buy. We want to help you learn everything you need to know about real estate taxes in South Carolina. 

Keep reading to find out how property taxes work in the Palmetto State. 

How Much South Carolina Property Taxes Are

Those who choose to live in South Carolina are lucky. They enjoy paying the fifth lowest property tax rates in the United States. 

While you should be aware that tax rates do vary between counties, the current median tax rate in South Carolina is 0.57%. That means if a homeowner purchases a home for $139,900, they can expect to pay a median tax of $798.  

How South Carolina Property Taxes Work

It’s worth noting that how much money owners of industrial, commercial, and utility properties pay in taxes in your county can directly affect your tax rate. The value of homes in your county will also affect your property tax rate.

Areas with higher housing values can still charge a lower tax rate because they’re still able to raise enough revenue. 

Tax Assessment in South Carolina

Homeowners living in South Carolina will pay annual property taxes which is based on the assessed value of their property as well as on their local tax rate. The assessed value is equal to a percentage of market value. 

That percentage is known as an assessment ratio. It depends on the type of property you are purchasing. 

Tax Assessment Rate Percentages

Owner-occupied primary residences have an assessment ratio of 4%. Non-primary residents pay a 6% rate. 

Every five years, local assessors are required to reappraise all properties within their jurisdiction. This is to determine the full market value, which is then applied to the assessment ratio. 

Cap on Tax Assessment Rates

In South Carolina, there is a cap of increases in market value determined through the reappraisal process at 15%. In cases is lifted should the following circumstances occur:

  • Transfer of property
  • Additions or changes to the property

Each County’s Tax Assessment Method Differs

Each county in South Carolina uses its own method of tax assessment. Before purchasing a home or land, get familiar with the rules of the county where you planning on buying the property such as:

  • Due dates
  • Specific rates of taxes due
  • Payment methods

You can also use a property tax calculator to help you determine the actual cost of your taxes. 

South Carolina Property Tax Rates

Property taxes are also known as real estate taxes. Local tax authorities determine the tax rates.

They do so by dividing the amount of revenue they need in order to meet their yearly budget by the total assessed value within their tax jurisdiction. Tax rates are then expressed in mills which often include the following:

  • County base millage rate
  • City millage rate (if charged)
  • School district millage rate (not applicable for owner-occupied residential real estate)

Other special purpose and/or special tax district mills are also charged to the property. 

This is equal to $1 of tax per $1,000 in assessed value. Most recently, South Carolina has had an average total mill rate ranging between 300 and 350 mills. 

Important Things to Know About Property Taxes

When you’re buying a home, your property tax bill may not be the same as the prior owner’s last bill. That’s because, under Act 388, when a home is transferred to another owner, it resets the taxable value. 

The prior owner may have had a capped assessment but you’ll initially be taxed based on the property’s true value. 

Rented Property Taxes are Much Higher than Owner-Occupied Properties

If you decide to rent out a home you’ve owned and occupied, your tax bill may triple. There is an exception for armed forces members who apply with the county assessor to keep their owner-occupied rate for up to two years. 

The reason is that owner-occupied homes are exempt from paying public school operating taxes. Rental properties are not exempt and they’re taxed on 50% more than their actual value.

They’re also subject to school operating taxes. 

How Your Property Taxes are Spent

While no one likes paying extra taxes, real estate taxes do go towards a number of vital programs. Most, if not all of the money is spent locally. 

Any road construction, maintenance, and local government salaries within your community are paid using your tax dollars. Municipal employees such as your local public works department, police, and firefighters receive their salary via your property taxes. 

Your Local Community Benefits from Your Property Taxes

The parks and other types of local recreation you enjoy are constructed and maintained using your tax dollars. Public lands not owned or funded by the state are also paid for by property taxes. 

Traffic, street lights, recreational trails, public transportation, and sidewalks are all paid for as well. 

Who to Pay Your Property Taxes to

If you carry a mortgage on your home, part of your monthly payments will go toward paying your property taxes. However, if you do not have a mortgage, most likely you’ll pay your property taxes directly to your county tax collector. 

You must pay your bill in full. Any failure to make your payments can result in penalties, fines, fees, and even the forced sale of your home. 

Counties with the Lowest Property Taxes

If you’re looking to purchase property, the following counties have the lowest property taxes in South Carolina:

  • Anderson County
  • Beaufort County
  • Berkeley County
  • Charleston County
  • Greenville County
  • Horry County
  • Lexington County
  • Richland County
  • Spartanburg County
  • York County

If you’re unsure you can afford property taxes, check with your financial advisor before buying a home. If you feel your tax assessment was unfair, consult with an attorney.

Consider Investing in Property

South Carolina property taxes are among the lowest in the United States. That makes it the perfect place to invest in property. Click here to learn more about investing in South Carolina properties through our company.  

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