Property Tax in Charleston

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

Appraised Value

Fair market value of real property in South Carolina is generally determined by its most recent sale price, with periodic reappraisals conducted by the county. Reappraisal of value, by state law, is capped at no more than 15% over a five year period. So when estimating the property tax on a home, assume that the full first year of your ownership will be based on the purchase price recorded on your deed. The county may reappraise the value up or down, but is limited in the amount of increase.

Assessment Ratio

South Carolina has two tax assessment rates for real property: the common 6%, and the primary residence exemption of 4%.
4%: 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 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
An aerial photo of homes in Charleston indicating their approximate tax assessments
Approximate property tax assessments for typical marshfront homes in North Charleston for tax year 2021

Millage Rate

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).

For the most updated millage rates, see the Auditor’s Office for the respective county:
Charleston County
Berkeley County
Dorchester County

Example property tax bill from Charleston County
Example property tax bill from Charleston County

Examples

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

Homestead Exemption

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.

Charleston County legal residence application
Charleston County legal residence application