Property taxes in Charleston are some of the lowest in the nation, as noted by a Kiplinger report that rates South Carolina in the top ten of most tax-friendly states in the United States.
A number of factors determine the tax assessment of particular real property in South Carolina, including the appraised value, the millage rate in the tax district, and the assessment ratio determined by the status of the home – as either a full time residence or investment/second home.
Assessing Property Tax
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 typically 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%: all other residential real estate
This is the standard property tax ratio for investment properties and second homes – while there is no property tax relief from SC, most of these property owners are declaring the property as a Schedule C asset on income taxes. For more details on property tax assessments, see the Assessor’s Office for the respective county: Charleston County Berkeley County Dorchester County
There are a few dozen tax districts in the Lowcountry, each having its own millage rate determined the county auditor for the provision of services in those districts.
For example, the City of North Charleston has a millage rate of 0.302, while a nearby unincorporated district with fewer services has a millage rate of 0.220.
The median millage rate in Charleston County in 2021 is 0.253, so for a quick estimation multiply your assessed rate by ¼.
(The highest millage for 2021 is 0.313 in Lincolnville; the lowest is 0.202 on Dewees Island).
value x ratio x millage
For a home appraised at $500,000 in Downtown Charleston, for tax year 2020:
4%: primary residence
$500,000 x 4.0% x 0.2835 = $5,670 – $3,112 (property tax relief) = $2,558 per year
6%: investment property/second home
$500,000 x 6.0% x 0.2835 = $7,765 per year
An additional tax reduction is available for South Carolina homeowners who qualify by:
- over the age of 65
- permanently disabled
- legally blind
The SC Homestead Exemption allows these homeowners to reduce the appraised value of their primary residence by up to $50,000.