How to Save on Property Tax
Personal Property (Vehicles, Boats & Motors, Aircraft)
1) Age 65 and older receive a $4.00 discount off their tag fee of $24.00 for passenger cars, $10.00 off the $40.00 tag fee for light trucks. This is usually automatically applied by DMV but make sure you are receiving the discount. If not, apply at the DMV.
2) A discount is given for high mileage on your car and light truck. The discount is given through an appeal to the value of the vehicle based upon the number of miles the vehicle is driven. The vehicle must have over 15,001 miles for each year of the vehicle’s age. Apply in person at the Auditor’s office – drive vehicle or provide an oil change receipt for proof. (Note: Trucks or other vehicles with load capacity of over 11,000 pounds are assessed at 10.5% and do not receive high mileage discount.)
3) If trading vehicles and your current tag has months left on it, transfer the tag to the new vehicle thus postponing the higher taxes until the tax is due for renewal. Or wait until taxes are due on the old car, pay them, then transfer the tag, again postponing the higher taxes.
4) If selling your vehicle, you are entitled to a refund of property tax that is prepaid for the remaining months. You must provide proof of sale and that you turned in your tag.
5) If you have a full year left on your tag, the DMV will refund one year’s fee, but it has to be for the full year - 365 days or longer left on the tag.
6) POW, Medal of Honor recipients, or Veterans with a service connected total disability can receive total property tax exemption for up to two vehicles. DMV fees are exempt as well. (POW and Medal of Honor benefits carry to surviving spouse, for vehicle and home, for a spouse of a disabled veteran - home only). (12-37-220 (B) (1) (A), (B) 26, 29 & 43). Apply to SC Dept. Revenue.
7) If you are permanently confined to a wheel chair, you can receive property tax exemption for up to two vehicles. DMV fees are not exempt. (Surviving spouse does not receive exemption) 12-37-220 (B) 27, apply to SC Dept. of Revenue.
8) The parents or legal guardian of a minor child who is confined to a wheel chair can receive property tax exemption for one vehicle. DMV fee is not exempt. 12-37-220 (B) 37. Apply to the SC Dept. of Revenue.
9) Passenger cars and light trucks listed in a business name are assessed at 10.5 percent. Change to your personal name, and it is assessed at 6%. There may be issues that keep you from changing, but if situations such as liability or IRS rules do not apply, then change ownership.
10) If moving to another state, once you establish residency in the other state, we will refund the property tax for the unused months on your vehicle(s). Please bring license plate and copy of new registration for the refund.
11) If your vehicle has a title that indicates salvaged on it, you may receive a 25% discount on your property taxes.
Note: Information on all these exemptions can be obtained from the Auditor’s office at 638-4158. For the exemptions, you must apply to the SC Department of Revenue. DMV discounts are provided through the Department of Motor Vehicles in Seneca.
Real Property (Land and Buildings)
1) If you move into SC, buy a home, register a car, and obtain your SC driver’s license be sure to apply for Primary Residency. This allows you to receive a 4% assessment value and also allows you to receive the discount for School Operation millage.
2) If already a citizen of SC and you buy a home, be sure to apply for Primary Residency for your home. Mobile homes also qualify as primary residence but must be registered in your name.
3) Own acreage over 5 acres, you need to apply for farm use. This allows a 4% assessment at a greatly reduced assessed value. Only issue is if you ever sell and the use of the land is other than farm, then 5 years roll back tax rules apply. Most of the time the new owner will pay the tax, but you need
to be aware of this law. Code section 12-43-232.
4) If you own undeveloped acreage sub-divided into 10 lots or more, you may qualify for a multi-lot discount. Contact the Assessor for details.
5) If you own rental property that adjoins your legal residence and your child lives there, the property will qualify for residential use if you do not charge rent. Otherwise, it is classified as 6% rental property not subject to the school operations exemption.
6) If you own over 5 acres of land and your residence sits on the land and you have investment property adjoining the acreage, you may be able to list up to 5 acres as residence and the remaining as investment property, thus reducing your tax rate for the residence portion.
7) If a developer or builder has a spec house that is complete, on the market and unoccupied, they may receive an exemption on the house for 6 years, or until date sold or occupied.
Real property classifications are handled by the Assessor’s office at 638-4151. These classifications are not automatic, as you must apply, and there are specific filing dates required for the respective exemptions.
1) Homestead – Citizens 65 and over, blind or permanently disabled as determined by Social Security or Voc. Rehab. For age qualifications, you must be 65 to apply. You must have been a resident of South Carolina for one full year prior to December 31 of the prior year. You receive the exemption the year following your 65 th birthday. (Exemption carries to surviving spouse as long as spouse does not remarry). 12-37-220 (A) (9).
Homestead Exemption provides property tax relief for the first $50,000 of the appraised value of your home. If receiving the total exemption amount, the County discount is around $200.00 depending on the current millage rate. If resident in a city or in district 17 (Keowee Key) then the discount applies also to these areas.
2) Paraplegic or hemiplegic or their surviving spouse, may qualify for full property tax exemption. (Real property only for surviving spouse). 12-37-220 (B) (2) (a).
3) Stroke victims losing use of one side (hemiplegic) qualify. (Carries to surviving spouse) 12-37-220 (B) (2) (a). (Home carries to surviving spouse 12-37-220 (B) (2) (a)).
4) Parkinson’s disease that leaves you as a paraplegic or hemiplegic qualifies as well, home and two vehicles. (Home carries to surviving spouse 12-37-220 (B) (2) (a)).
5) A military veteran who is totally and permanently disabled from a service related cause is also exempt from property tax to include up to two vehicles to include up to two vehicles as described in item 6 under Personal Property. (Home carries to surviving spouse) 12-37-220 (B)(1)A, B, C, (B) (3). (Home and up to five (5) acres land).
6) Spouse of a veteran, policeman or fireman killed in the line of duty also qualifies for home and one acre unless spouse remarries. 12-37-220 (B) (1) (b).
7) Sec. 30-2. Extension of tax filing and payment for military personnel serving in hazardous duty zones. Oconee County Council extends the date of payments of personal property and real estate taxes for persons serving with the United States armed forces or National Guard in or near a hazardous duty zone, including but not limited to combat zone areas as defined by the United States, to 180 days after they leave the combat area and waives any penalties and interest due as a result of the extension. Additional extensions may be granted during periods of hospitalization resulting from injuries or illness incurred while serving in or near a hazardous duty zone. Additional extensions to the normal 180 day extension may be granted by the Auditor, Treasurer and Tax Collector of the County due to extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to medical reasons. (Ord. No. 2005-02, 3-15-2005) Sec. 30-3-30 Reserved.
Items 2-6 provide exemption of home and one acre (5 acres for 100% service connected disabled veterans) of land that the home sits on. Paraplegics and hemiplegic will also qualify for exemption for up to two vehicles.
Call the Auditor’s office at 638-4158 for information. Homestead Exemptions are handled by the Auditor’s office. Applications for the other exemptions must be sent to the Department of Revenue. We will help you with the application, and you may be required to obtain a doctor’s statements for certain disabilities.