May. 14 2020

In South Carolina there is an annual property tax on real estate that is a major source of revenue for counties and the state; revenue from property taxes is used to fund public schools, emergency services, public libraries and other county and state services made available to the public. Property tax bills are calculated by multiplying the Fair Market Value by the assessment ratio, which is then multiplied by the millage rate. There are actually two different assessment ratios at which real estate can be taxed: a 4% primary residence rate and a 6% secondary residence or investment property rate.

Property owners who occupy a property as their primary legal residence qualify for the 4% rate. However, you don’t get that rate automatically. Property owners must apply for the primary residence rate with the county assessor’s office and provide documentation showing that the property is the owner’s legal primary residence. Property owners are only required to apply for the 4% rate once for each property, but can only qualify for that rate on one property at a time. Residential real estate that is owned for use as a second home, rental property or other type of investment property is generally taxed at 6%.

There are also other factors that may affect how a property owner is taxed. For instance, if a property owner occupies their real estate as a primary residence, is over the age of 65 and has been a resident of the State for at least a year, the property owner may also qualify for the Homestead Exemption, which gives the property owner an exemption on the first $50,000.00 in Fair Market Value of the property. A property owner may also qualify for the Homestead Exemption if they are totally and permanently disabled or legally blind. Veterans may also qualify for exemptions.

Kimberly Ziegler joined MGC Real Estate’s Northeast Columbia office in February of 2016. She earned a Juris Doctor from the Charleston School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Charleston. She is a member of the Richland County Bar Association and South Carolina Women Lawyers Association. In 2019, Kimberly was named to Columbia Business Monthly’s Legal Elite of the Midlands for Residential Real Estate Law.