A Complete Guide to Property Taxes in South Carolina
Wondering how much you’ll pay for property taxes in South Carolina? Read on for all you need to know about the average South Carolina property tax and exemption
How Much are Property Taxes in South Carolina?
If you’re an American homeowner, you pay personal property tax. However, you don’t pay the same property taxes in South Carolina as your next-door neighbor or your cousin in New York. Each person’s property tax depends on local tax rates as well as the fair market value of their home.
Municipalities calculate property tax rates in South Carolina based on the services that they need to fund and how much those services cost to provide. A local government uses this information to determine the tax percentage rate for the area. That percentage, also known as the mill rate, is then applied to the property’s assessed value.
What are Millage Rates?
Let’s say your local county assessor has set your home’s value at $200,000, and your tax rate is 0.35 percent. You pay:
200,000 * (0.35/100) = $700
As a South Carolina property owner, you’re lucky. You have a relatively low property tax rate compared to people who own similar homes in other states.
What Is the Property Tax Rate in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, the effective property tax rate can range from below 0.4 percent to above 0.8 percent. That translates to a significant difference in actual tax payments.
A hypothetical $200,000 home in a county with an 0.42 percent property tax rate would pay $840 that year. Meanwhile, someone in a county with an 0.72 property tax with a similarly valued home would pay $1,440.
The Law of Averages
So, how much are property taxes in South Carolina? Because property taxes vary so dramatically, the most practical place to start is with averages. Here are some key figures:
- The average South Carolina property tax rate is 0.574 percent
- The nationwide median property tax rate stands at 1.211 percent
- The average South Carolina property tax payment is $1,435
- The nationwide average property tax payment is $3,028
Now let’s look at the high and low ends of the real estate tax scale.
Property Tax Rates: South Carolina Property Taxes by County
Each county takes certain state requirements into consideration when calculating their property tax rates in South Carolina, such as the lower taxation of residential property versus commercial properties. (More on that later.) Even though South Carolina property taxes are consistently low relative to the national average, some counties impose higher taxes to offer more in-depth services.
You’ll find the three highest property tax rates in:
- Newberry County (0.86 percent)
- Richland County (0.80 percent)
- Bamberg County (0.73 percent)
The lowest rates are in:
- Chesterfield County (0.43 percent)
- Florence County (0.42 percent)
- Horry County (0.37 percent)
Let’s get even more specific and look at how much you’ll pay as an individual property owner.
Calculating Your South Carolina Property Tax
To determine how much you will have to pay in property taxes, you need to know the millage rate for your county and municipality, as well as your home’s assessed value.
“Where do I find my home’s value?”
If you’ve owned your home for long enough that you’ve already paid personal property tax at least once, you can figure out the value by looking at your last tax bill. Divide your total paid by the local tax rate and you’ll get an assessed value. Be aware, though – if you’ve done any major renovations or additions since then, your property value will probably be higher this year.
If you don’t have an old property tax bill, you can contact your county tax assessor’s office and ask for your primary residence or home’s most recent assessed value.
“What is my property tax rate?”
The South Carolina Association of Counties publishes a breakdown of millage (property tax) rates for each county, school district, and municipality. It also lists any other charges or millage rates that might apply to a particular location and walks you through how to calculate your individual rate.
Basically, you’ll be multiplying the assessed value of your home by the total millage rate.
Assessed Value in South Carolina
South Carolina applies property tax rates differently based on whether a property is owner-occupied or not and whether it is residential, commercial, or agricultural. The Association of Counties makes this calculation separately from the millage rate.
If you’re using this particular model and have an owner-occupied home, you’ll multiply your appraised value by 4 percent before considering millage rates.
“Is there an easier way?”
Yes. SmartAsset has a property tax calculator that you can use for any US home location. You’ll still need to know your assessed home value as well as your ZIP code.
Also, some counties including Charleston have their district-specific estimators. Check your county government’s website to find out if yours offers this tool.
South Carolina Is Special
When you search for “property tax in South Carolina,” you find that the state has been ranked as the sixth most affordable in terms of property tax.
South Carolina’s state government has worked hard ensure that its homeowners don’t bear the burden of funding state operations. Owner-occupied primary residence taxes are completely exempt from school taxes, which usually make up the largest part of a home’s property tax responsibilities. South Carolina makes up for this gap by imposing school taxes on rental properties and increasing other taxes.
For one, South Carolina charges higher vehicle taxes than 47 of the other 49 US states. The sales tax rate statewide is also on the high end, mainly because counties need the money to fund schools.
Property Tax Exemptions
Property taxes in South Carolina may be eligible for a homestead exemption. If you are over the age of 65, have a disability or have lived in your home for over a year you may be entitled to receive $25,000 to $50,000 in exempt property tax off of your bill.
Can’t Afford Property Taxes?
If you live in South Carolina and can’t afford your property tax, it might be small comfort to know that other states have higher rates. What do you do?
Nonpayment of taxes isn’t a good plan. Your taxing authority could sell your home and force you out, or your mortgage lender could pay the taxes on your behalf and then foreclose if you can’t pay them back.
Technically you could sell your home to release yourself from the tax burden, but then you’d still have to move, right?
The Sale-Leaseback Alternative
Innovators have developed a solution that lets you sell your home while continuing to live there. A residential sale-leaseback let you stay in place as a tenant, according to your leaseback agreement.
Some programs even let you keep the option to buy it back. If you want to move instead, you can sell your home, and you will get the remaining equity.
Imagine staying in the home you love but not having to pay property taxes. It’s possible through a sale-leaseback.
If you need to figure out what your own property taxes would be in the state of South Carolina, there are several tools available to you. Gather the necessary personal information and, when in doubt, be sure to consult your real estate agent or a financial advisor to help you anticipate how much you would be expected to pay.