Vehicle Tax Information

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.

Vehicles which have value such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, campers and motor homes are taxed yearly. Vehicles are taxed in the future, in the same month as they were originally registered at the SCDMV.  The property taxes are due the last day of the month in which the license expires.

According to Law Code: Title 12, Chapter 37, Section 12-37-268, vehicle assessments are determined by guides given to each county by the South Carolina Department of Revenue. These guides are used to calculate the taxes due in accordance with the mills for the district in which you reside within the county.

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 issued or renewed.  The renewal month refers to the month in which the vehicle was originally registered.  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.

If the vehicle is purchased from a dealership, they collect your South Carolina Sales Tax and DMV license plate fee. The bill you will receive in the mail is for the personal property taxes. Since the dealer is the only one who can 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.

If the vehicle is purchased from an individual, the property taxes must be paid before you can register the vehicle at the SCDMV. A copy of the title or bill of sale must be emailed, faxed or brought into the Auditor's Office for a tax bill to be prepared. The paid tax receipt must be taken to the SCDMV.  You may go online to scdmvonline.com to see what additional information the SCDMV may require. You have 45 days to register your vehicle.

If you have a valid license plate from a previously owned vehicle in your name that has not expired, you may transfer the plate to your new vehicle.  The tag from the previous vehicle and the title or bill of sale for the newly acquired vehicle, must be taken to the SCDMV to have it transferred.  Property taxes are not due on the new vehicle until the plate is ready for renewal.

If you have excessive miles on your vehicle, 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.

If you have sold your vehicle and receive a renewal bill, you may disregard the bill. However; you must turn the license plate into any SCDMV office within 30 days of the sale. If the bill is a Car Dealership Purchase bill, you will need to contact the Berkeley County Auditor’s Office. You may owe all or a portion of the bill.  Disregarding this bill could result in your driver’s license being suspended.

When you move out of South Carolina and have registered your vehicle in another state, you must mail your South Carolina registration and license plate back to the SCDMV. If the license plate has not expired, you may qualify for a refund.  You may fax, email, mail or bring into the office a copy of your new registration complete with your new mailing address to apply for a refund.