Property Tax Definitions

  • Property Taxes
    • 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.
  • Real Property
    • All land and the buildings, structures or improvements on that land and mobile homes are billed as real property.
  • 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.
  • Ad Valorem
    • According to value
  • Fair Market Value
    • Property, reasonably priced, that can be expected to sell on the market with a willing buyer and a willing seller.
  • Assessment Ratio
    • The percentage of one’s property value, which is subject for taxation in accordance with the state law.
  • Assessed Value
    • An appraisal or fair market value of real or personal property multiplied by the appropriate ratio equals the assessed value. Assessed value multiplied by 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 (usually 5 years) to provide equity among taxpayers.
  • Millage Rate
    • The number of mills levied to meet the budget of the county, city, school district or special district. One mill is equivalent to 1/1000 of a dollar or 1/10 of a cent.
  • Tax Year
    • 1. 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 of every year all real property and personal property, and business taxes must be paid at the Tax Collector's office in Moncks Corner (no other offices).
    • 2. Exception – The vehicle tax year coincides with the month in which the registration expires.
  • 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.
  • Tax Map Number (TMS#) or Parcel Number
    • The TMS number links property ownership and map location information. Each parcel of land in the county has its own TMS number that links back to the current ownership information.
  • 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 (LES) 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 require them to pay half the bill.
  • Vehicle exemptions
    • 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. 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 and motors valued at $500 or less is exempt from property taxes (see www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/taxinfo.html). Boat trailers are tax exempt in South Carolina.
  • Manufacturer’s Exemption
    • Per SC Code of Laws, section 12-37-220
      (7) all new manufacturing establishments located in any of the counties of this State after July 1, 1977, for five years from the time of establishment and all additions to the existing manufacturing establishments located in any of the counties of this State for five years from the time each such addition is made if the cost of such addition is fifty thousand dollars or more. Such additions shall include additional machinery and equipment installed in the plant. Provided, however, that the exemptions authorized in this item for manufacturing establishments, and additions thereto, shall not include exemptions from school taxes or municipal taxes but shall include only county taxes. Provided, further, that all manufacturing establishments and all additions to existing manufacturing establishments exempt under statutes in effect February 28, 1978, shall be allowed their exemptions provided for by statute until such exemptions expire.
  • Tax Receipt Number or Tax Bill number
    • The receipt numbers identify each person’s tax bill that is issued for each tax year. It is usually located at the top left of the bill, under BERKELEY COUNTY TAX NOTICE.
  • Online Payments
    • Payments may be made online at www.berkeleycountysc.gov, (Tax/Finance option). However, there is a service fee when paying on the internet. The fee is 2.4% of the bill when using a credit card and is 1% of the bill when using a debit card.
  • Penalty Amount
    • The amount that the state law requires to be added to the total tax amount, for a late payment on a specific bill.