South Carolina Property Taxes: FAQ’s
When considering buying a home, it is important to investigate all aspects of your potential purchase. One aspect that can sometimes be overlooked by prospective home buyers is property taxes. The way taxes are assessed and levied varies from to state-to-state and often by county or district. Here are some of the top frequently asked questions about property taxes in South Carolina – Horry County in specific.
Q: How are property taxes and tax rates assessed in South Carolina?
A: Each county in South Carolina is required by state law to do a countywide property value assessment every five years to update the fair market value all properties. The tax rate begins with a percentage of the fair market value of your home (in Horry County, it is 4 percent for primary residence) and multiply that by the millage rate of the district the home is in. Millage rates vary by district within the county.
Q: What if the fair market value of my home is assessed for more than it is actually worth?
A: You can file an appeal with the county Tax Assessors Office prior to January 15th. Make sure you have documentation such as recent comparable sale prices of similar homes in your district, a detailed appraisal or other supporting evidence to show what the fair market value *should* be.
Q: Are property tax rates different for second homes or investment properties than for a primary residence?
A: Typically, yes. You should expect to pay a higher property tax rate for a second home or investment property. In Horry County, the percentage of the property’s fair market value used is 6 percent for second homes and investment properties, but just 4 percent for primary residence. Keep in mind, these percentages are then multiplied by the millage rate of the district. If your additional property is in a different district, the millage rate will be different as well.
Q: Are there any exemptions or discounts offered on property taxes?
A: Yes. These also vary by county in South Carolina. In Horry County, there are two primary exemptions available. The Homestead Exemption is for homeowners aged 65+ years and reduces the fair market value assessment of the property by $50,000. The second common exemption is for military service persons, with disabled veterans receiving a 100% exemption from property tax.
Q: What happens if I am unable to pay the property taxes on my home in South Carolina?
A: Failing to pay taxes of any kind, including property taxes, is one of the most financially damaging issues you can have. Different counties have slightly different processes but ultimately, if the taxes owed along with penalties and fees imposed for lateness are not paid, the county will seize the property from you and sell it at auction for the amount owed in taxes. Yes, they legally can take your home away from you and sell it for as little as the amount you owe them in taxes.
Property taxes are a fact of real estate ownership. Taking time to learn about how the property taxes are assessed and calculated is an important task whether you are purchasing your first home or your fourteenth home. While our list of frequently asked questions about South Carolina property taxes is a good start, there is much more to learn. For additional questions, your Century 21 Broadhurst Agent is happy to provide or find any answers you need.