In 1915, South Carolina created the property tax on real and personal property. It is a main source of revenue for the state and local government, as well as public schools. All residents of South Carolina are asked to pay yearly ad valorem property taxes on real and personal property. Revenue generated is used by local government to provide the services that Berkeley County residents enjoy.
Common Property Tax Terms
- Real Property - All land and the buildings, structures or improvements on that land and mobile homes are billed as real property. The Auditor does not appraise real property. Real property is taxed each year based on ownership December 31st of the previous year.
- Personal Property - All things other than real estate which have value such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, campers, motor homes, marine equipment, aircraft, and items used in a business such as furniture, fixtures and equipment are taxed yearly. These taxes are based on ownership December 31st of the previous year.
- Ad Valorem - According to value.
- Fair Market Value - Reasonable amount for which a property can be sold to a willing buyer.
- Assessment Ratio - The percentage of our property's value which is subject for taxation. The South Carolina Constitution provides for the following ratios to be applied to the market or use value of property to arrive at the assessed value:
- Home (legal residence) 4%
- Second Home (for any residential property where you do not live) 6%
- Agriculture real property (private owned) 4%
- Agriculture real property (corporate owned) 6%
- Commercial real property 6%
- Manufacturing real and personal property 10.5%
- Utility real and personal property 10.5%
- Railroads, pipelines, 9.5%
- Aircraft 6%
- Watercraft 10.5%
- Business Personal Property 10.5%
- Vehicles 6%
- Assessed Value - An appraisal or fair market value of real or personal property multiplied by the appropriate ratio equals the assessed value. Assessed value times the millage rate equals the amount of property taxes.
- Reassessment - Process required by state law to determine the change in market value of property over a certain period of time in order to provide equity among taxpayers. It is the valuation of real estate.
- Tax Year - The year that the tax bill is received payable by January 15 of the following year.
- October 1 Property tax books are opened
- January 15 Property taxes for the prior year must be paid to the county treasurer no later than this date.
- January 16 through February 1 Property taxes for the prior year paid during this period are subject to a penalty of 3%.
- February 2 through March 16 An additional penalty of 7% is added to taxes for the prior year paid during this period.
- As of March 16, 2009 all real property and personnel property, and business taxes must be paid at the Tax Collector's office in Moncks Corner (no other offices).
- Local Option Sales Tax - In Berkeley County, the voters approved the local option sales tax (LOST). Revenue collected from the additional 1% sales tax must be used for property tax relief. You do not have to apply for this reduction. It is automatically shown on your tax bill. Berkeley County's sales tax is 8% effective May 1, 2009.
- Military Exemption - If you are active duty military stationed in South Carolina and claim another state as your home of record; vehicles as well as leased vehicles with a title in your name and/or your spouse's name may be exempted from property taxes. A current Leave and Earning Statement must be filed with the Auditor's Office. If your spouse is on the title as a co-owner or alone; a copy of their dependent ID card or copy of your marriage license must be presented in addition to the military member’s LES. Only active duty military personnel & spouses can be exempt and any other names on the title will cause them to have pay half the bill.
- Vehicles Exemption - If you are a POW, a Medal of Honor recipient, have a 100% permanent and total service connected VA disability, or require the use of a wheel chair, you may be exempt from property taxes on up to two (2) vehicles. You may obtain applications from the Auditor's Office.
In order to get vehicles totally exempt, only lease companies and spouses can be on the title; anyone else's name on the title will cause the exemption to be lost.
- Marine Equipment Exemption - All marine equipment, which includes boats, motors and trailers valued at $500 or less is exempt from property taxes (see www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/taxinfo.html).
- Manufacturer's Exemption - All new manufacturing establishments are exempt from county property taxes for five years from the time of establishment.