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Q. What if I do not agree with the fair market value of my vehicle?
If you feel the fair market value shown on your tax notice is not accurate, you may appeal the value to the county Auditor’s Office. Many times the fair market value may be adjusted if the vehicle has excessive mileage. Pursuant to SC Code of Law, the Auditor must use the value provided by the Department of Revenue on your initial tax notice as this is the value the Department of Revenue has established as Fair Market Value for your vehicle make, model etc. Another option is the Kelly Blue Book (KBB), this can be requested online, fax, by mail or in person. This can be used if you do not qualify for high mileage reduction or if you are not satisfied with the reduction with the mileage. This value is based upon Private Party, Excellent Condition for 2014 and 2013 and Good Condition for 2012 and back.

Q: How is my tax notice calculated?
An assessment ratio, based on the type and use of the property, is applied to the market value of the property to determine its “assessed value.” This is the portion of the value of the property you will be taxed on. Once an assessment has been calculated, the assessment is multiplied by the tax rate for the gross amount of taxes due.

Q: What are the different ratios used in calculating an assessed value?
Different Ratios are as follows:

  • Primary Residence 4% of Fair Market Value (The Property Tax Relief removes all School Operating fees for owner occupied primary residence)
  • Other Real Property 6% of Fair Market Value
  • Personal Property 10.5% of Fair Market Value
  • Agricultural Property (privately owned) 4% of fair market value
  • Agricultural Property (corporate owned) 6% of use value
  • Manufacturing & Utility Property 10.5% of fair market value
  • Railroad, Airline & Pipeline Property 9.5% of fair market value
  • Vehicles Business vehicles 10.5% of fair market value
  • Private passenger vehicles 6% of fair market value

Q: What is Homestead Exemption?
The S.C. Homestead Exemption Program is for homeowners who are age 65 or older
and/or totally and permanently disabled and/or totally blind. The program exempts up to $50,000 of the value of the home including up to five contiguous acres of property from property taxes. To qualify, the homeowner must have been a resident of South Carolina for at least one year on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption and have been approved for the 4% ratio. To receive the exemption, the homeowner must file and application in person with the County Auditor. The applicant may also authorize someone else to make application for him/her if they cannot come themselves. Proof of eligibility is required in the form of a Medicare card, birth certificate if applying based on reaching the age requirement. You will need certification from a state or federal agency if applying because of disability or blindness. You do not have to reapply every year. Reapplication is only necessary only in the event that you move to a new home, have a change in your disabilitystatus, rent your home, death of one or more eligible owners, or remarriage of a surviving spouse.Beginning in August, you will no longer be able to go to the local Social Security Office to get a copy of your “Notice of Award” letter. Everyone will have to call in or do it online for themselves. To contact Social Security, you can call 1-800-772-1213.

Q: I just had my 65th birthday and want to know if I can get the Homestead Exemption.
You may apply for the homestead exemption any time AFTER you reach the age of 65. The law states you must be 65 on or before December 31 of the previous year in which you wish to claim the exemption (for example, if you wanted to qualify for Homestead for the 2014 tax year, you will have to be 65 years of age on or before December 31, 2013).

Q: I do not own the vehicle shown on my tax notice any longer. What should I do?
You may discard the tax notice if you did not transfer the license plate to another vehicle. If you transferred the tag from the vehicle you no longer own to another vehicle, you need to contact the Auditor's office for instructions in order for your vehicle to be registered properly.

Q: I am new in the state. What is the procedure for registering my vehicle?
State law provides 45 days from the date you move here to pay property taxes. The tax bill will be prepared based on the fair market value of the vehicle and the tax district you reside in. 

To obtain a SC license and registration:
1. Bring your registration, title or bill of sale to the Auditors office
2. Obtain a notice and  pay the notice at the treasurers office
3. Take your paid receipt and proof of insurance to the Dept. of Motor vehicles and obtain a SC registration and license plate for your vehicle.

Q: I purchased my vehicle from a dealership who told me they took care of the taxes and tags. Why am I getting a property tax notice?
The taxes and tags the dealership paid are for South Carolina sales tax and for your Dept. of Motor Vehicle license fees. The tax notice you received is for personal property taxes, which must be paid annually.

Q: I traded in my car and transferred my tag to a new vehicle I purchased. The tag does not expire for another 6 months. What do I need to do?
The dealership should be handling the transaction at the Division of Motor Vehicle for you to ensure you receive a registration for your new vehicle. You will not owe taxes for the new vehicle until the tag expires. If you are handling the transfer, you will need to take your previous registration and your bill of sale for your new vehicle to the Division of Motor
Vehicles to register the vehicle. You will not owe property taxes until the tag expires.

Q: How do I obtain a temporary tag  from your office?
This can also be done at the Department of Motor Vehicles. You must present our office with a title or bill of sale AND proof of insurance for THAT particular vehicle. We would generate a temp tag bill of $5, you would pay that at the treasurer's office and come back to our office to show that amount has been paid. We then give you the tag and a letter to keep in your vehicle from the DMV that you must keep in you vehicle. You must also sign off that you have received your information. **Please note: temporary tags can only be given 45 days from the date of the original purchase.**

Q: What do I do if I disagree with the value of my vehicle shown on my tax notice?
You may appeal to the county auditor if you disagree with the value of your vehicle. If you are appealing based on the number of miles your vehicle has been driven, you may complete the form on the tax notice and either mail, fax, email or bring it to one of our offices in person to see if the notice can and will be adjusted for you. If you are appealing due to the general condition of the vehicle, please provide an estimate of fair market value from Kelly Blue Book along with your tax notice and again, either fax, email, mail or bring in the information to file your appeal. ALL appeals MUST be made ON or BEFORE the last day the taxes may be paid timely. Once the tag renewal has expired and the notice is late, we CANNOT accept appeals for that year. If you have not received a notice, please contact the auditors office.

Q: Where do I register my vehicle if I have two homes?
In South Carolina, the law requires you to register your vehicles at your LEGAL residence. In order to qualify for the 4% legal residence on your home (if you have one here) you will be required to provide proof that your vehicle is registered here. If you are here for 150 days or more of the year, your vehicle is taxable here as well. It is illegal to live here and not register your vehicle and continue to use a tag from another state. This is considered property tax evasion and is punishable by law.

Q: I am military. Am I exempt from taxes for my vehicle?
If you are active duty military and claim another state as your home of record,  the vehicle that is in your name may be exempt from property taxes.  A current Leave and Earning Statement must be presented and filed with the county auditor’s office to qualify for exemption. If the vehicle is jointly owned with a spouse who is not active duty, they must present a Identification card bearing their spouses name. If the vehicle is jointly owned and one person is active duty and the other is not, they will receive a 50% exemption on their bill.

Q: What do you need to qualify for an exemption of vehicle taxes if you are disable?
If you are a POW (Prisoner of War), a Medal of Honor recipient, have a 100% permanent and total Veterans Administration disability, or require the use of a wheel chair, you may be
exempt from property taxes on up to two (2) vehicles. You may obtain applications from the Auditor’s office. This form will then need to be completed and sent to the SC Department of Revenue. They will contact you with the approval or denial. If approved, please provide our office with the letter stating you are exempt on your current vehicle.

Q: I am disabled. Do I qualify for an exemption on any property taxes?
If you have a 100% total and permanent, service connected disability through the Veterans Administration, or if you are a paraplegic or hemiplegic, or the spouse of a veteran killed in the line of duty, you may be eligible for exemption of property taxes on your home and up to one acre of land on which the home is located. To apply, please provide our office with a medicare card, birth certificate, social security card or letter from the Veterans office. A drivers license and vehicle registration

Q: I have a John boat and did not receive a tax notice for it. Why?
All marine equipment, registered as of January, 1 of each year, which include boats and motors  valued at $500 or less is exempt from property taxes.

Q: Where does the auditor get his/her information about marine equipment?
All marine equipment tax information is provided to us from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the United State Coast Guard. The Auditor’s Office is required to tax from this information. You must notify DNR within 30 days when you sell a watercraft to have it removed from the records.

Q: I want to buy a watercraft, what are the steps to do so?
  First, take the title numbers and check with the county in which the owner lives to make sure all back taxes are paid up. If the taxes are unpaid, per law, the taxes follow the watercraft and become responsibility of the new owner
Section 50-23-295: (A) A certificate of title to watercraft or an outboard motor may not be transferred if the department has notice that property taxes for property tax years beginning after 1999, are owned on the watercraft or outboard motor. (B) A person who knowingly sells a watercraft for which he owes unpaid and outstanding property taxes, or on which he knows there is a property tax lien, is guilty of a misdemeanor and up conviction, must be fined not more than one thousand dollars and imprisoned not more than thirty days.

Q: I sold a boat in June, am i still responsible for the property taxes at the end of the year?
If you owned a boat as of December 31th of the preceding year, you are required to pay the property taxes. Make sure to contact the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Q: I have moved to another part of Dorchester County, how can I notify the county?
Please email Marcia Jackson at with any address changes. Please include title and serial numbers.
Any calls regarding watercraft may call  (843) 563/832-0127

Q: Can I claim my boat as my Secondary Residence?
Section 12-37-224: (B)(1) A person who owns a boat or watercraft that contains a cooking area with an onboard power source, a toilet with exterior evacuation, and a sleeping quarter, may claim one boat or watercraft as a primary residence and one boat or watercraft as a secondary residence for purpose of ad valorem property taxation in this State.

Last updated: 4/30/2014 12:08:20 PM