Frequently Asked Questions

Index

I. Change of Name/Address

How do I change my name/address on my tax records?

  1. Real Property
  2. Personal Property (Address Changes)
  3. Motor Vehicles
  4. Watercraft (Boats/Motors)

II. Property Tax

  1. How does the property tax system work?
  2. What do you mean by "assessment ratio"?
  3. If mailing payment, the postmark needs to be prior to what date to be on time?
  4. To whom do I complain about high taxes?
  5. What is the value of a mill and does it change?
  6. How do I apply for a Military Exemption on my mobile home?
III. Real Property - Legal Residence/Second Home
  1. What is SC Tax Relief/Legal Residence Discount? Who qualifies? How do I know if I get it?
  2. I own a motor home. Can it qualify as my residence?
  3. I own a camper or travel trailer used for recreational travel that is pulled by a motor vehicle. Can it qualify as my residence?
  4. I own a boat or watercraft. Can it qualify as my residence?
IV. Personal Property Tax
  1. What is personal property?
  2. When are personal property taxes due?
  3. How is the value of my personal property determined?
  4. If I own a business or rental residential property, how are the taxes determined on associated personal property?
  5. I sold the personal property you have billed me for. What do I do with this bill?
  6. Can I appeal the value of my vehicle, airplane, or boat?
  7. When are rental-related personal property tax returns due?
  8. What happens if I fail to file a business and/or residential rental personal property tax returns on time?
  9. Are all boats and outboard motors taxable?
  10. Are certain trailers taxable?

V. Motor Vehicle Tax

  1. How do you determine what my motor vehicle is worth?
  2. The value of my motor vehicle seems too high. How do I determine if the value is correct?
  3. What is the assessment ratio on motor vehicles in South Carolina?
  4. When are vehicle taxes due?
  5. How do I get a high mileage adjustment?
  6. The dealer told me they would take care of the taxes and tag. Why am I getting a tax bill?
  7. I received a tax bill on a motor vehicle that I sold. What do I need to do?
  8. To transfer my license plate to a different vehicle, what do I need to do?
  9. I moved out of state. What should I do with my South Carolina license plate?
  10. I moved to Beaufort County from another county within South Carolina. How do I pay my vehicle taxes in Beaufort County?
  11. I am active duty military, how do I apply for the military exemption?
  12. I am a senior citizen, how do I apply for discounts on my motor vehicle?
  13. I own a motorhome or camper trailer. Can my tax rate be dropped from 10.5%?
VI. County Administered Exemptions:
  1. Homestead Exemption Program
  2. Active Duty Military Exemption

VII. Other Exemptions:

  1. Disability Exemption
  2. Military Exemption:

I. Change of Name/Address

How do I change my name/address on my tax records?

1. Real Property

2. Personal Property (Address Changes)

** Address changes at any other office other than the ones listed below may result in tax bills being sent to the wrong address **

  • Documented Vessels - address must be changed with the U.S. Coast Guard at uscg.mil or 1-800-799-8362
  • Business - address must be changed on the account with the South Carolina Department of Revenue at sc.gov or 1-803-898-5222
  • Aircraft - address must be changed with FAA at faa.gov or 1-866-762-9434
  • Motor Vehicles - address must be changed with DMV at com or 1-803-896-5000
  • Watercraft - address must be changed with DNR at sc.gov or 1-803-734-3857

3. Motor Vehicles:

  • In accordance with state law, you must notify the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • It is DMV’s record that we use to determine the taxable value of your vehicle.
  • DMV’s record determines which tax district you are in and where to mail your bill.
  • The wrong address in DMV’s records could result in paying too much tax or not receiving your tax bill.
  • The wrong address in DMV’s system could also delay the delivery or renewal of your registration and decal of your license plate.
  • Address updates can be done on the DMV’s website or by completing their Form 4057. Additional information can be found here: Change My Address or Name (scdmvonline.com)

4. Watercraft (Boats/Motors):

  • In accordance with state law, you must notify the South Carolina DNR (SC Department of Natural Resources).
  • It is their records that we use to determine which tax district you are in and where to mail your tax bill.
  • The wrong address in DNR’s records could result in paying too much tax or not receiving your tax bill, which can delay the registration renewal.
  • Address updates can be done by completing and mailing to DNR their address change form: SC Department of Natural Resources – Notification of Address Change Form

II. Property Tax

1. How does the property tax system work?

  • In simplified terms, there are three elements to South Carolina’s property tax system:
    - Tax rate: The amount generally reflected in “mills,” or “millage rate.”
    - Assessment ratio: The percentage of the taxable value of property established by state law.
    - Market value: The fair market value for both real estate and personal property.

2. What do you mean by "assessment ratio"? 

  • An assessment ratio is established by state law for each class of taxable property expressed as a percentage. It is the fair market value of a piece of property on a certain date, multiplied by the assessment ratio, which applies to that piece of property. e.g., a 4% assessment ratio for an owner-occupied house, 6% assessment ratio for a motor vehicle or a secondary residence, etc.

3. If I mail my tax payment, what is the last date it can be postmarked before being considered late?

  • It must be postmarked no later than the due date to avoid penalty.
  • If the due date falls on a weekend or a county holiday, the due date is extended to the next available business day.

4. To whom do I complain about high taxes?

  • Taxes are set by the governing body/bodies where the property is located.
  • County Council, School Boards, and the applicable city council and/or special purpose district determine how much money must be collected to fund their budgets and the tax rate necessary to meet their budget.
  • Property taxes make up only a portion of the total amount of revenue needed to fund the budget.
  • Fees, state collected revenues and other sources of income make up the remainder.


5. What is the value of a mill and does it change?  

  • The value of a mill is always one tenth of a cent, or one thousandths of a dollar. For example, a tax rate of 150 mills translates to $.150 (15 cents) tax per $1.00 of assessed value. As your individual property increases or decreases in value, the value of a mill will increase or decrease in value on a county-wide scale.

6. How do I apply for a Military Exemption on my mobile home? 

  • If your home of record is not South Carolina, you do not have to pay personal property taxes while permanently stationed in this state.
    • In order for your mobile home to qualify, it must be your primary residence.
    • It must also be registered and titled in the service member's name to qualify for 100% exemption (if ownership is joint, other than spouse, only 50% of the exemption will apply).
    • This exemption does not include county taxes on real property.
    • To obtain the exemption, the service member can provide their latest Leave & Earnings Statement, or an Affidavit of Domicile (original with seal), to the Auditor's Office.
    • You can hand deliver, mail, fax or email with notice these documents to the Auditor's Office to receive the exemption.

III. Real Property - Legal Residence/Second Home

1. What is the SC Tax Relief/Legal Residence Discount? Who qualifies? How do I know whether I have it?

  • Property owners can apply for the SC Tax Relief/Legal Residence Discount for their one legal residence in the state of South Carolina.
  • This means that the qualifying property’s market value would be assessed at a ratio of four percent rather than six percent to obtain the property’s assessment (assessed value) for tax purposes.
  • Even on a “home place,” some of the property may not qualify. For example, rental homes, second homes, commercial property, acreage above five acres, or property receiving another discount, such as agriculture use. You can look at the tax ratio on your real property bill to see whether the billed property has Legal Residence.
  • The Assessor’s Office provides the Legal Residence Application.

2. I own a motor home. Can it qualify as my residence?

  • A motor home that:
    • Is used as a primary or secondary residence; and
    • Is eligible for the mortgage interest deduction on a federal tax return; and
    • Has bathroom, sleeping quarters, and cooking facilities, is eligible to be taxed as a secondary home residence. (IRS Publication 936 – Qualified Home Section)
    • The property will be valued in the same manner as personal motor vehicles are for property tax purposes.

3. I own a camper or travel trailer used for recreational travel that is pulled by a motor vehicle. Can it qualify as my residence?

  • A camper or travel trailer pulled by a motor vehicle that:
    • Is used as a primary or secondary residence; and
    • Is eligible for the mortgage interest deduction on a federal tax return; and
    • Has bathroom, sleeping, and cooking facilities, is eligible to be taxed as a secondary home residence. (IRS Publication 936 – Qualified Home Section)
    • The property will be valued in the same manner as motor vehicles are for property tax purposes.
    • Motor homes or recreational vehicles (RVs) can also apply for the secondary residence tax rate with the County Auditor.

4. I own a boat or watercraft. Can it qualify as my residence?

  • A boat or watercraft that:
    • Is used as a primary or secondary residence; and
    • Is eligible for the mortgage interest deduction on a federal tax return; and
    • Has bathroom, sleeping quarters, and cooking facilities, is eligible to be taxed as a secondary home residence. (IRS Publication 936 – Qualified Home Section)
    • The property will be valued in the same manner as motor vehicles are for property tax purposes.

IV. Personal Property Tax

1. What is personal property?  

  • In South Carolina, personal property encompasses motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft (including boats, outboard motors, wave runners, jet skis, etc.). Personal property tax also applies to equipment, furniture, fixtures, and machinery primarily used by businesses, or furnishings and appliances provided within rental properties.

2. When are personal property taxes due?  

  • With the exception of motor vehicles and watercrafts, personal property taxes must be paid by January 15 of the following year, unless that day falls on a county holiday or weekend. Personal property taxes on motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, and watercrafts are due throughout the year on a staggered monthly schedule. For motor vehicles, bills must be paid before your decal, registration, and license plates can be renewed with DMV. For boats, bills must be paid before your registration can be renewed with DNR.

3. How is the value of personal property determined?  

  • For motor vehicles, values for personal property are kept current through annual updates by the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR).
  • For watercrafts and aircraft, nationally recognized sources approved by DOR are used.

4. If I own a business or rental residential property, how are the taxes determined on associated personal property?  If you owned the property on December 31, preceding the current tax year, you are responsible for the taxes for that entire year.

  • For businesses, the Net Depreciated Value of any furniture, fixtures, and/or equipment listed on the Business Personal Property Return is used.
  • For rental property, the Current Value of Contents of any furnishings and/or appliances listed on the Return on 6% Assessed Real Property or Rental Residential Property return form is used.
  • Returns for rental properties can be found under Auditor Forms.
  • Business returns must be filed through MyDORWAY.
  • Rental return forms are required to be completed and submitted to our office for all real property listed at the 6% secondary or non-residence tax rate, and any real property taxed at 6% or 4% that is rented.
  • Real property taxed at 4% that is also rented can keep the 4% tax ratio if the property is not rented for more than 72 days out of the year. For questions on renting 4% property, please contact the Assessor’s office.

5. I sold the personal property you have billed me for. What do I do with this bill? Yes, you have until the taxes are due to appeal in writing to the Auditor's office.

  • For businesses, rental property, Documented Vessels, and aircraft, if you owned the property on December 31st preceding the current tax year, you are responsible for taxes for that entire year. For example, if you owned a Documented Vessel on December 31st, 2022, you are responsible for paying the taxes that would be due by January 15th, 2023. Personal property is taxed in arrears.
  • If you purchase personal property on or after January 1st, you will not have to pay county taxes on it until January of the following year.
  • This information does not apply to motor vehicles or watercrafts, which are taxed in advance as opposed to arrears. Contact the Auditor’s office if you received a renewal bill for a vehicle or watercraft that you sold.

6. Can I appeal the value of my vehicle, airplane, or boat?  

  • Yes, you have until the taxes are due to appeal in writing to the Auditor’s office. Filing an appeal does not extend the due date of your taxes. Appeal documents for vehicles, aircrafts, and watercrafts can be found under Auditor Forms.

7. When are rental-related personal property tax returns due? 

  • Returns must be filed by April 30th of each year. In accordance with state law, late applications post marked after April 30th will be subject to late penalties.
    • Currently, there are no provisions in the law to allow for an extension of filing returns.
    • For personal property (except motor vehicles and watercrafts), taxes are levied in arrears.
    • Tax returns for rental properties are determined by the owner as of December 31st of the preceding tax year.

8. What happens if I don't file my business-related personal property tax return on time?  

  • The County Auditor is required by law to estimate all accounts in which a return was not filed. Estimates may be higher than the original filed amount on the return. In accordance with state law, late applications post marked after April 30th will be subject to late penalties.

9. Are all boats and outboard motors taxable? 

  • Boats or outboard motors with a fair market value of $833 or less are not taxable. When a boat depreciates to this minimum value, personal property taxes will no longer be charged. Instead, registration fees will be due annually with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

10. Are certain trailers taxable?  

  • If registered for personal use in South Carolina, trailers are exempt from personal property taxes. For example: utility trailers (open or closed bed), heavy equipment trailers, cargo trailers, boat trailers, farm trailers, dump trailers, pole trailers, dry van trailers, car trailers, and horse trailers.
  • For these kinds of trailers, you may visit DMV to have title work updated to South Carolina. Permanent plates may also be requested with their department.
  • However, if the trailer has living quarters, it will be treated as a camper/travel trailer and be charged personal property taxes.
  • If the trailer will be registered under a business name, a personal property tax bill will need to be created by the County Auditor and paid with the Treasurer prior to visiting DMV.

V. Motor Vehicle Tax

1. How do you determine what my motor vehicle is worth?  

  • The South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) determines the value of motor vehicles within the state by using a set of nationally accepted standards and guidelines established by the auto industry. TAXPAYER NOTE: It is very important to review all the information on the tax bill.  A correction on the tax bill may result in a change in the taxes due.
    • All county auditors are required by law to use the DOR Motor Vehicle Values manual to establish the fair market value in preparing your motor vehicle tax bill.
    • The manual lists each model and make of most available motor vehicles. The manual is not available to the taxpayer.
    • The vehicle's fair market value is multiplied by the assessment ratio set by law to determine the assessed value. The assessed value is then multiplied by the millage rate to determine the amount of taxes owed.
    • When values are not provided by DOR, then other nationally recognized sources are used.
    • When information identifying the specific vehicle is missing from the DMV record, a review of the tax bill can identify a need to update information. By contacting the Auditor's office to update the information, it will ensure the tax bill moving forward will be accurate.
    • Vehicle information can be updated when the renewal tax bill is issued by providing the Auditor's office with a copy of the current title or specific documentation that identifies the vehicle.

2. The value of my motor vehicle seems too high. How do I determine if the value is correct?  

  • You may contact the Auditor’s office to determine if the appraised value of your vehicle on your tax bill is correct. If the value is correct, you may further dispute the appraisal of your vehicle tax bill by submitting a Vehicle Assessment Appeal Form to the Auditor for review.
    • If you file an appeal, your appeal does not extend the due date of the tax bill.
    • Your appeal may take up to 30 days to be reviewed by the Auditor. After review, the Auditor will then mail you a letter with his decision, whether the appeal was approved or disapproved.
    • If your appeal is approved and the bill has not yet been paid, an adjusted tax bill will be included with the Auditor’s reply.
    • If your appeal is approved and the bill has already been paid, a refund will be mailed to you in 4-6 weeks from the Treasurer’s office.
    • It is recommended to file an appeal early in the month so that you can receive a revised tax bill in time to pay and renew your registration prior to the decal expiring.
    • Appeals of a vehicle’s taxed amount are considered timely if received prior to the last day of the month in which the tax can be paid timely.
    • Approved appeal assessments do not carry over to the following year’s bill and will need to be requested annually.

3. What is the assessment ratio on motor vehicles in South Carolina? 

  • An amendment to the South Carolina Constitution, Article X, Section 1(8)(B)(1) reduced the assessment ratio on personal motor vehicles including motorcycles from 10.5% to 6% over six years beginning with the 2002 tax year.
  • This reduced assessment ratio applies only to personal automobiles, personal light trucks, and personal motorcycles.
  • The laws were changed in 2006 to amend the gross vehicle weight for private passenger vehicles to 11,000 lbs. or less and the net vehicle weight to 9,000 lbs. or less.
  • All medium and heavy trucks classified by the manufacturer are valued at 10.5%. Pickup trucks with an empty weight exceeding 9,000 lbs. and/or a gross vehicle weight exceeding 11,000 lbs. are categorized as medium and heavy duty trucks.
  • All motor vehicles registered under a business name are assessed at 10.5%.
  • All other motor vehicles such as camper trailers and motor homes will continue to be assessed at 10.5%.

4. When are vehicle taxes due?  

  • Personal property taxes on motor vehicles and recreational vehicles must be paid before your decal, registration, and license plates can be renewed.
    • You have 45 days after moving to South Carolina to register your vehicle.
    • Taxes are due throughout the year on a staggered monthly schedule. For example, if your tags expire in November, your renewal bill will be due on the last day of November every year.
    • If you live in this state only part of the year and consider another state your home residence, you are still required to register your car in SC if the vehicle will be here for 150 days or more. For more information, contact the nearest office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

5.  How do I get a high mileage adjustment?

  • The amount of the high mileage adjustment is based on a table provided by the SC Department of Revenue (DOR).
    • Refer to the High Mileage chart to determine if your vehicle qualifies for the adjustment.
    • If it does, you may complete a Motor Vehicle High Mileage Appeal form with the Auditor’s office, which can be done either in person or through email. Pictures of the vehicle’s odometer and South Carolina license plate (for vehicle renewals) or VIN (for newly purchased vehicles) are required.
    • High mileage adjustments can only be processed before the due date of your tax bill. Once your renewal date has expired, appeals for high mileage cannot be granted for that year's taxes (in accordance with state law).
    • If you do not receive a tax bill at least 45 days before your vehicle tag renewal is due, contact the Auditor's office immediately.
    • Adjustments for high mileage do not automatically carry over to the following year’s bill. You will need to reapply annually.

6. The dealer told me they would take care of the taxes and tag. Why am I getting a tax bill?  

  • For vehicles purchased from in-state dealerships, sales tax or the Infrastructure Maintenance Fee (IMF) is collected at the time of purchase. The dealer can also arrange for the DMV to mail you a new decal and registration.
  • The bill you received from the County Auditor is for the personal property taxes due on the vehicle. This is to cover the plate and registration that was mailed to you in advance of this bill, which is separate from sales tax or IMF. Personal property taxes are to be paid within 120 days after the purchase of a vehicle from a dealership. The dealership will provide you paperwork that you sign acknowledging that the property taxes will be due in 120 days.

7. I received a tax bill on a motor vehicle that I sold. What do I need to do? 

  • When you sell or dispose of a vehicle, you are required to surrender the license plate within 30 days of sale to a DMV Office.
    • If you received a renewal notice for your vehicle but you surrendered the license plate to DMV, please contact the Auditor’s office so that we can close your account.
    • If you surrendered the plate to DMV and have months remaining, you may request a prorated refund with the Auditor’s office if you provide proof of sale. Refunds are determined by the month the SC plate is turned in to DMV.
    • If you transferred your license plate to another vehicle but sold the vehicle that you received a tax notice for, please contact the Auditor’s office. We may need to close your old vehicle account and create an account for your new vehicle.

8. To transfer my license plate to a different vehicle, what do I need to do? 

  • If an owner on the previous vehicle registration will also appear on the registration of the new vehicle, take the registration of your previous vehicle and the Bill of Sale for your replacement vehicle to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and register your replacement vehicle and perform the transfer.
    • You will not need to pay taxes on the replacement vehicle until the anniversary of the license plate/registration renewal month. For example, if your old vehicle has registration that is good until March 2023 and it is currently September 2022, the remaining months will cover your new vehicle until March 2023, and a renewal notice will be mailed at that time for your new vehicle.
    • However, if you are transferring your vehicle license plate within 90 days of the decal expiring, you may have problems with the renewal unless all paperwork has been processed timely with DMV. You may need to contact the Auditor’s office to have a bill created and paid for on your new vehicle prior to transferring the license plate.
    • Legislation was passed requiring the Department of Motor Vehicle to develop a system that would prevent customers from transferring a license plate to a vehicle after the first time without first paying the property taxes. This legislation was effective beginning January 1, 2006. See the current State Appropriations 2007-2008 DMV Proviso 36A.7 for more details.
    • Additional questions regarding plate transfer eligibility will need to be directed to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

9. I moved out of state. What should I do with my South Carolina license plate? 

  • After you have registered your vehicle in your new state of legal residence:
    • Mail or drop off your South Carolina plate and registration to DMV, or report the plate as “turned in” through their website.
    • DMV will provide the plate turn-in receipt Form 5051 if the plate is mailed in or dropped off in person. If reported “turned in” on their website, you will receive a confirmation page.
    • If you received a renewal bill for your vehicle from South Carolina, you will need to contact the Auditor’s office once the SC license plate has been turned in to DMV.
    • For prorated refunds, the Auditor’s office will need to be contacted through mail or email. Once the SC license plate is returned to DMV, a copy of the out of state registration or title will be required. Refunds are determined by the month the license plate is turned in to DMV. Since refunds are mailed as checks, it is recommended to indicate a good mailing address when you submit your documents for processing.
    • Additional information for license plate returns can be found on DMV’s website: License Plate Return (scdmvonline.com)

10. I moved to Beaufort County from another county within South Carolina. How do I pay my vehicle taxes in Beaufort County? 

  • Update your address information with DMV. This can be done either in person or on their website: Change My Address or Name (scdmvonline.com)
  • If your tags are about to expire, contact the Beaufort County Auditor’s office with your vehicle registration and photo ID of the vehicle owner(s) so that a personal property account can be created in Beaufort County. You may want to reach out to your previous county of residence once your bill in Beaufort County has been paid and your registration has been updated with DMV.
  • If you do not have vehicle taxes due and your address information was updated timely, DMV will send your updated address information to the County Auditor for future renewal billing.
  • If you do not receive a tax bill at least 45 days before your vehicle tag renewal is due, contact the Auditor's office immediately.

11. I am active duty military, how do I apply for the military exemption?

  • If you are currently stationed within South Carolina and your home of record is in another state, you do not have to pay the personal property taxes on your motor vehicles, or other personal property.
    • The personal property must be registered in the service member’s name to qualify for 100% exemption. If a co-owner is listed on the registration, or if a co-buyer is listed on the bill of sale/title, the exemption may apply if they are a dependent of the active duty member.
    • Vehicle registration or a bill of sale/title listed solely in the name of a non-active duty member may be exempt from motor vehicle taxes if they are the dependent of an active duty member, who is stationed within South Carolina with a home of record in another state.
    • This exemption does not include separate fees charged by DMV.

12. I am a senior citizen, how do I apply for discounts on my motor vehicle?

  • There are no senior citizen discounts on the personal property taxes for motor vehicles. However, DMV does offer license renewal fee discounts for persons 64 years of age or older. For more information, contact the nearest office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

13.  I own a motorhome or camper trailer. Can my tax rate be dropped from 10.5%?

  • RVs such as motorhome and camper trailers are taxed at a rate of 10.5% per SC state law. However, if your RV has separate and distinct living areas (such as a bathroom, sleeping quarters, and cooking facilities), it may be eligible to be taxed at the 6% Secondary or Non-Primary Residence Rate. Contact the Auditor’s Office to complete an Affidavit for Qualification of Motor Home Residence Status form. This form must be completed every year prior to the due date of your tax bill.

VI. County Administered Exemptions:

1.  Homestead Exemption Program

What is the Homestead Exemption Program?

  1. Homestead Exemption Program
    The Homestead Exemption Program is provided as property tax relief for homeowners that are over the age of 65, or 100% totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind.

 

  1. South Carolina Property Tax Relief
    The most recent amendment to the South Carolina Property Tax Relief was granted to homeowners in Act 388 of 2006. This tax relief will be reflected on the 2007 tax year notices that will be mailed in October 2007. In summary, the homeowner (Owner Occupied) will be exempt from paying school operations taxes. The state in Act 388 increased sales tax by one-cent to fund the school operating exemption.

 

  1. South Carolina Property Tax Exemptions
    The classification of exempt property from property taxes for South Carolina is listed in SC Code Section 12-37-220.

 

How the Homestead Exemption Program Can Reduce Your Property Tax Bill

  1. Do I Qualify?
  • I hold complete fee simple title or life estate to my primary residence.
  • As of December 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption, I was a legal resident of South Carolina for one full calendar year.
  • As of December 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption, I was 65 years of age, or was declared totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency having the authority to make such a declaration, or was legally blind as certified by a licensed ophthalmologist.

If statements 1, 2, and 3 are true, you are qualified to receive the Homestead Exemption.

  1. Surviving Spouse Benefit
    The surviving spouse of a qualified or potentially qualified Homestead recipient may also receive the benefit if:
  • You are the surviving spouse of a qualified Homestead recipient.
  • You are the surviving spouse of a person who was not otherwise qualified for the Homestead Exemption but failed to make application in the year that they would have received the exemption at the time of his/her death.
  • Furthermore, if you remarry, you will not qualify for the surviving spouse benefit for the Homestead Exemption.

 

When Can I Apply for the Homestead Exemption on my Primary Residence?

  1. Application Period
    The year after you turned 65 or classified 100% disabled or legally blind, apply between January 1st and July 15th of the following year. If a written application for the exemption is received after July 15th, the exemption can only be granted for the succeeding tax year.

 

  1. Where do I apply?
    You may apply for the Homestead Exemption at the Beaufort County Auditor’s office. If you are unable to go to the Auditor’s office, an agent can make an application on your behalf, or you may apply over email.

 

  1. What documents are needed?
    Please see the Required Documents for Processing page for more information.

 

  1. Do I need to re-apply annually?
    It is not necessary to reapply annually, except when there is a change of ownership as a result of death, a change in occupancy, or an update to the deed.

 

  1. When is it necessary to reapply?
    It is necessary to reapply when one of the following occurs:
  • Change in disability status
  • Change in ownership, such as placing the property in a Trust
  • Rental of your home
  • Remarriage of the surviving spouse

 

  1. What is the benefit?
    The program exempts the first $50,000 of the value of your home from all property taxes. See the following examples:

 

Example Without Credit

Example With Credit

Value of Home

$ 62,500

$ 62,500

Less Homestead Credit

$ -0-

$ (50,000)

“New” Value of Home

$ 62,500

$ 12,500

Multiplied by 4% ratio =

2,500

500

Multiplied by millage

.285

.285

Total taxes due =

$ 712.50

$ 142.50

 

This is an example and may not apply the same benefit for your property.

 

  1. Assistance

The Beaufort County Auditor’s Office will answer any questions regarding eligibility status and application procedures. Please call (843) 255-2500 for assistance.

 2. Active Duty Military Exemption

What property is included in the Active Duty Military Exemption, and how do I apply?

  • If your home of record is not South Carolina, you do not have to pay personal property taxes on property that you own while permanently stationed in this state.
  • This exemption does not include county taxes on real property.
  • The exemption covers motor vehicles (including trucks), campers, motor homes, boats and outboard motors, personal recreational watercraft (like wave runners and jet skis), aircraft and mobile homes (occupied by the owner), and rental personal property.
  • The property must be titled in the name of the military service member in order to qualify for 100% exemption. Dependents can be included.
  • If there is a non-military co-owner, other than spouse for rental property, only the equal percentage of ownership will be applied for the military exemption.
  • In order for your mobile home to qualify, it must be the service member's primary residence.
  • To obtain the exemption, the Service Member can provide their Leave and Earning Statement (LES) to the Auditor’s office. Additional documentation may be requested, such as an Affidavit of Domicile, signed and stamped Original Orders, or Reporting Endorsement Orders. The LES may also need to reflect a specific month, depending on if the exemption being requested is for a motor vehicle, watercraft, or rental.
  • Exemptions are valid for only one tax year and will need to be requested annually.
  • When exemptions on motor vehicles are processed, the Auditor’s office will create an exemption slip for the Service Member to present to DMV to renew the vehicle registration and decal. Please see the Required Documents for Processing page for the information needed to process motor vehicle exemptions.

 

  1. Other Exemptions

 

  • Disability Exemption

What property tax exemptions are available for the disabled?

  • You may quality for the Homestead Exemption Program due to being 100% totally and permanently disabled. Please refer to the Required Documents for Processing page for the information needed to apply.
  • You may qualify for other disability exemptions provided through the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR). All disability exemptions from property taxes are listed in Section B of the Department of Revenue’s Form 401I (Application for Exemptions Instructions). These instructions are from SC Code of Laws Section 12-37-220, General Exemptions from Taxes. For more information, please visit DOR’s website: Exempt Property (sc.gov)
  • There is a Department of Revenue Office at 300A Outlet Pointe Boulevard, Columbia, SC 29210. The telephone number is (803) 898-5000.

 

  • Veterans

Are there any exemptions for retired military or disabled veterans?

  • You may qualify for exemptions on up to two vehicles and your home, provided through the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR) if you are a 100% totally and permanently disabled veteran. All military exemptions from property taxes are listed in Section B of the Department of Revenue’s Form 401I (Application for Exemptions Instructions). These instructions are from SC Code of Laws Section 12-37-220, General Exemptions from Taxes. For more information, please visit DOR’s website: Exempt Property (sc.gov)
  • There is a Department of Revenue Office at 300A Outlet Pointe Boulevard, Columbia, SC 29210. The telephone number is (803) 898-5000.
  • To apply for an exempt license plate for 100% totally and permanently disabled veterans, please contact DMV with a copy of your approved DOR exemption letter.