Appraised Value: The fair or true market value.
Assessed Value: The appraised value of property multiplied by its assessment ratio. The assessment is the “taxable” portion of property.
Levy: To collect
Ad Valorem Taxes: A tax imposed on properties in proportion to their value.
Millage Rate: The rate used to determine the individual tax to be levied on a property. A mill is equal to 1/1000 of a dollar. For example, if the millage rate is 100 mills and the assessed value of a property is $1,000, the tax on that property is $100.00.
Personal Property: Includes motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft and business personal property furniture, fixtures and equipment.
Real Property: Includes real estate (land & buildings) and mobile homes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the different ratios used in calculating an assessed value?
A: 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
- Business vehicles 10.5% of Fair Market Value
- Private passenger vehicles 6% of Fair Market Value
Q. How can I get an estimate of my vehicle property taxes?
A: You will need to provide the year, make, model and VIN number of the vehicle, along with your Dorchester County address. Without all of this information, the ESTIMATE may be different once you arrive to register.
Q. What if I do not agree with the fair market value of my vehicle?
A: 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. If you are appealing due to the number of miles or value, you can complete the form (please include mileage even if disputing value) on the notice and submit by mail, fax, email or by coming into the office.
We will check Kelly Blue Book for an adjusted value. You must reapply each year since the mileage rate and value of your vehicle changes yearly. ALL appeals MUST be made ON or BEFORE the last day the taxes are due. 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: 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?
A: When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, the tax you paid at the time of purchase included your sales tax and fees to obtain the license plate at the DMV. Their personnel are able to pick up the new registration and license plate from the DMV. Once you receive your license plate, a tax bill is generated approximately 3-4 months later. This bill covers the property tax on the vehicle for one year from when the license plate was purchased. If you have any questions regarding this bill, please contact our office for further assistance.
Q: I am new in the state. What is the procedure for registering my vehicle?
A: State law provides 45 days from the date you move here to pay property taxes. You will need to come into the office with your previous registration, title or bill of sale for the vehicle.
To obtain a SC license and registration (moving to Dorchester County or a new purchase):
1. Bring your registration, title or bill of sale to the Auditor's office for a tax notice to be generated.
2. Take notice from Auditor's office to Treasurer's office to pay taxes.
3. Take your paid receipt and any DMV required documents to the DMV to obtain a SC registration and license plate for your vehicle.
Q: I no longer own the vehicle shown on my tax notice. What should I do?
A: Please contact our office for further assistance before paying or discarding this bill.
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?
A: The dealership should be handling the transaction at the DMV for you to ensure you receive a registration for your new vehicle. 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 DMV 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?
A: 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 with your name on it 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 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.** Before your temporary tag expires, you must come back into the office to pay the property taxes for your new license plate.
Q: I am military. Am I exempt from taxes for my vehicle?
A: If you are currently active duty military stationed in South Carolina or have a home in South Carolina and you claim another state as your home of record you may be exempt from property tax. You must provide a current LES for the exemption. If you have a spouse's name on the title, we will need a copy of their dependent ID. If the vehicle is jointly owned and one person is active duty or their spouse and the other is not, you will receive a 50% reduction of the tax bill.
Q: What do you need to qualify for an exemption of taxes?
A: You may be approved for an exemption on 2 vehicles and your permanent residence. If you are a disabled veteran, you will need to contact the Veteran's Affair office for Dorchester County at 843-832-0116. If you are not a veteran, there is a form in the Auditor's office that can be completed and sent to the Department of Revenue, they will let you know if you qualify. Once you receive your letter of exemption from the Department of Revenue, please provide us with a copy of the letter for an adjustment.
Q: I recently paid the taxes for a vehicle that I have now sold. How do I get a refund for my taxes?
A: In order to process a refund we need a copy of the Form 5051 (tag turn-in receipt) and a copy of a bill of sale or title. The title or bill of sale must include the buyer and seller signatures along with the date of sale. If the vehicle was totaled, please provide 5051 form and a letter from the insurance company that shows the date of total loss.
Q: I recently paid the taxes for a vehicle and now I am moving out of state. How do I get a refund for my taxes?
A: You can either: 1. Mail your tag to the Auditor's office along with a copy of your new state's registration and a good contact telephone number. 2. If the tag is mailed to the DMV, they should send a receipt to you acknowledging they received the tag, then send a copy of that receipt along with your new state’s registration and a good contact telephone number.
When submitting a refund, please provide a good address to mail the refund to and a contact number. Please mail refund paperwork to the St. George Auditor's office.
Q: How do I change my address on my vehicle registration card?
A: If you need to change your address on your vehicle registration, you do it though the DMV. If you have already received a Green vehicle tax bill and you have moved to another location in Dorchester County, you will need to contact our office. If you have moved out of the county and you have a Green vehicle tax bill, you will need to register in your new county. If your tax bill is Yellow, please contact our office for further assistance.
Q: What is Homestead Exemption?
A: The S.C. Homestead Exemption Program is for homeowners who are age 65 or older
and/or totally and permanently disabled and/or legally 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. The applicant may also authorize someone else to make application for him/her if they cannot come in themselves. 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 disability status, change name on deed, rent your home, death of one or more eligible owners, or remarriage of a surviving spouse. For additional questions, please contact Brenda Nix at 843-832-0109 or 843-563-0109.
If you are the income beneficiary of a trust, please present a copy of the trust agreement.
To contact Social Security, please call 1-800-772-1213. To see if you qualify for the exemption, please refer to this link: Homestead