Frequently Asked Questions
When I purchased my car, the dealership told me they would take care of my tags and taxes, why did you send me a tax bill?
The dealership collects your South Carolina Sales Tax and DMV fee. The bill you will receive is for the personal property taxes. Since the dealer is the only one who is able to purchase a license plate before the property taxes are paid; you will be given 120 days from your purchase date to pay your property taxes. If the property taxes are not paid at the end of the 120 day mark, your driver’s license may be suspended.
Do I have to pay taxes again if I want to transfer a tag to a vehicle I just purchased?
No taxes are due at the time of transfer. Just go to any DMV branch to transfer the tags. You will pay taxes on the vehicle when it is time for the tag to be renewed.
How do I get the high mileage reduction?
You may come in to apply or as a convenience to our taxpayers, the high mileage section on the front of your tax bill may be completed and faxed, emailed or mailed in for a corrected bill. You must be sure to apply before the last day of the month in which the tag expires.
I just turned 65, can I get the Homestead Exemption now?
You may apply for the homestead Exemption any time after you reach the age of 65. The law states that you must be 65 on or before December 31st of the previous year in which you wish to claim the exemption. Since house taxes are billed in arrears; you won’t actually see the discount on your bill until the following year after you turn 65.
For Your Information:
- Appeal of Vehicle Taxes - You may appeal any property tax on your vehicle by contacting the Auditor's Office. You can apply for a reduction of taxes based on high mileage or you may have a dealership give you a written appraised on the over all condition of the vehicle. You may print off the form on our web page to take to the dealer for this purpose. According to state law, this appeal must be done by the last day of the month in which the tag expires. If you miss this deadline, you cannot appeal your bill for that year.
- Refund of Vehicle Taxes - If you sell a vehicle, you can surrender your tag and receive a refund on your taxes for the unused months. You must provide written proof of sale, which can be the following: copy of bill of sale from a private sale or dealer trade in or, copy of front and back of title signed over to new owner. You must also provide a receipt from the DMV showing the tags have been surrendered. If you move out of state, you can mail your South Carolina tag and proof of your registration in the new state to the Auditor's Office to receive a refund for the unused months.
- Motor Homes & Campers - Motor homes are taxed at the 6% tax rate. Campers are taxed at the 10.5% rate. You are now able to receive a lower tax rate on campers if you meet the qualifications of a primary resident which can be reduced to the 4% rate or use interest on your income tax as a second home which can be reduced to the 6% rate. There is a form on our web page to print, fill out and submit to our office to have the taxes lowered.
- All marine equipment tax information is provided to us by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. By law, the Auditor's office is required to tax from this information. Boats are taxed at 10.5% and are subject to a tax reduction if they are used as a primary resident, in which case taxes can be lowered to the 4% rate or if the interest is claimed on your income tax using as a second home the taxes can be lowered to the 6% rate. There is a form on our web page to print, fill out and submit to our office for approval and tax reduction. For any further questions you can contact the Department of Natural Resources at:
1000 Assembly Street
Rembert Dennis Bldg., Room 104
Columbia, SC 29202
217 Fort Johnson Road
Charleston, SC 29422
- All manufacturers, utility, fee-in-lieu agreements, property of merchants and certain businesses are required to file a return with the South Carolina Department of Revenue or the Berkeley County Auditor's Office on all furniture, fixtures and unlicensed equipment. A return is mailed out each January and is to be filed by April 30th to avoid penalties. If you do not receive a Business Personal Property Return, please contact the Auditor's Office.
- Personal property such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, campers and motor homes are also billed yearly and are taxed a year in advance.
- Temporary 45 Day License Tag - A person who newly acquires a vehicle may purchase a 45 day temporary tag from the Auditor's office. The cost of the tag is $5.00, which may be paid by cash, check, or money order. A title must be presented to the Auditor's office. If you only have a bill of sale; you must then purchase a temporary tag from any DMV.
- If you are moving into the state of South Carolina and want to register your motor vehicle, you must first pay property taxes on the vehicle. Bring or fax a copy of your title or registration card to the Auditor's Office, and a tax bill will be prepared based on the value of the vehicle. After the taxes are paid, the paid receipt must be taken to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles along with your out of state title and insurance information in order to obtain a South Carolina license tag and title. You have 45 days to register your vehicle.
- What do I do if I move to Berkeley County from another county in SC?
You will need to bring, fax,email or mail a copy of your current SC vehicle registration and proof of your Berkeley County address to the Auditor’s office to have a tax bill created. After paying your taxes at the Treasurer’s office, you will need to take your paid tax receipt to the DMV. At the DMV you will pay your tag renewal fee if it is due, and they will issue your new registration and sticker.
- If you purchased a vehicle from an individual, the property taxes must be paid before you can register the vehicle. A copy of the title or bill of sale must be presented to or faxed to the Auditor's Office and a tax bill will be prepared. The paid tax receipt must be taken to the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, along with your bill of sale and insurance information in order to obtain a South Carolina license plate and title. You have 45 days to register your vehicle.
- If you purchased a vehicle from a dealership, the dealer may pick up the new tags for you from the Department of Motor Vehicles before you are required to pay your property taxes. You will pay the dealer South Carolina Sales Tax and registration fees. By law, the Department of Motor Vehicles will provide the vehicle information to the Auditor's Office. You will receive a Property Tax Bill which must be paid within 120 days of the date of purchase. If the taxes are not paid by the 120 day mark; your driver’s license will be suspended.
- At the time of purchasing a vehicle, you may prefer to transfer a license plate if the vehicle being purchased is in the same name. You will not be taxed on the new vehicle until it is time for the tag to be renewed. If the dealer is to transfer the tag and it has less than 4 months left on it; you might prefer to purchase a new tag as it will give you a longer time to pay the taxes on the new vehicle.