When considering your home purchase in South Carolina, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the structure of the state’s property taxes. The Palmetto State is known for its generally favorable property tax policies, particularly in regards to owner-occupied residences.
South Carolina levies a standard property tax rate of 6% on real estate, vehicles, boats, and investment properties, including secondary residences.
Homeowners that designate the property as a primary residence can dramatically reduce the tax assessment.
Three factors determine the tax assessment of particular real property in South Carolina:
How to Determine Property Tax
In South Carolina, the appraised value of a newly purchased property is often determined by its most recent sale price, though the county may adjust that value based on a number of factors – for instance if the property was purchased at well below market value.
The county periodically conducts reappraisals, which are limited by state law to a maximum increase of 15% over a five-year period. This clock resets when a property transfers to a new owner.
When estimating the property taxes for a home, think of the first year of ownership as being closely associated to the value at the time of purchase. The county may adjust the value later, but it can’t do so too drastically or too often, thanks to those state regulations.
South Carolina homeowners can tap into extra tax benefits if they meet specific qualifications. This includes those who are 65 and older, individuals with permanent disabilities, and those who are legally blind.
Under the SC Homestead Exemption program, eligible homeowners can trim up to $50,000 from the appraised value of their primary residence. This tax reduction can make a significant difference for those who qualify.
South Carolina has two tax assessment rates for real property: the common 6%, and the primary residence exemption of 4%.
4.0% » primary residences
Homeowners in South Carolina can declare one property as their primary legal residence, and with an approved application will enjoy a reduction in assessment ratio from 6% to 4%.
That reduction though is much more than ⅓: an additional Property Tax Relief is applied automatically, which further reduces the millage rate.
In effect, a primary residence homeowner will typically see a substantial property tax reduction of around 60-70%.
6.0% » all other real estate
This is the standard property tax ratio for investment and commercial properties as well as second homes – many of these property owners are declaring the property as an income-producing asset on Schedule C of their US income tax returns.
There are a few dozen tax districts in the Lowcountry, each having its own millage rate determined by the county auditor for the provision of services in those districts.
The median millage rate in Charleston County in 2021 is 0.253, so for a quick estimation multiply your assessed value by ¼.
For the most updated millage rates, see the Auditor’s Office for each respective county:
Highest Millage Rates
Buying a home in Charleston?
x 4.0% x
= $5,670 – $3,112
= $2,558 per year
Investment / Second Home
x 6.0% x
= $7,765 per year