Overview of South Carolina Taxes
South Carolina has some of the lowest property tax rates of any state in the country. The average effective property tax rate in South Carolina is just 0.57%, the fifth lowest in the country.
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To calculate the exact amount of property tax you will owe requires your property's assessed value and the property tax rates based on your property's address. Please note that we can only estimate your property tax based on median property taxes in your area. There are typically multiple rates in a given area, because your state, county, local schools and emergency responders each receive funding partly through these taxes. In our calculator, we take your home value and multiply that by your county's effective property tax rate. This is equal to the median property tax paid as a percentage of the median home value in your county.
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Jennifer Mansfield, CPA, JD/LLM-Tax, is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 30 years of experience providing tax advice. SmartAsset’s tax expert has a degree in Accounting and Business/Management from the University of Wyoming, as well as both a Masters in Tax Laws and a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. Jennifer has mostly worked in public accounting firms, including Ernst & Young and Deloitte. She is passionate about helping provide people and businesses with valuable accounting and tax advice to allow them to prosper financially. Jennifer lives in Arizona and was recently named to the Greater Tucson Leadership Program.
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South Carolina Property Taxes
If you’re buying a home in South Carolina, there’s some good news: The Palmetto State has some of the lowest property tax rates of any state in the country. The average effective property tax rate in South Carolina is just 0.57%, fifth lowest of any state. Part of the reason taxes are so low is that owner-occupied residences get the benefit of a lower assessment rate than commercial and second residences. That means taxes on owner-occupied residences are far lower than those on other types of property.
Looking to calculate your potential monthly mortgage payment? Check out our mortgage calculator.
How South Carolina Property Tax Works
Homeowners in South Carolina pay annual property taxes based on the assessed value of their property and on their local tax rate. Assessed value is equal to a percentage of market value. The percentage, called an assessment ratio, depends on the type of property. For owner-occupied, primary residences the assessment ratio is 4%. For non-primary residences, the rate is 6%.
Local assessors are required to reappraise all property in their jurisdiction once every five years. The purpose of this reappraisal is to determine the full market value, to which the assessment ratio is applied. Increases in market value as determined through this reappraisal are capped at 15%. That cap is lifted in the case of a transfer of property or when additions or changes are made to the house.
So, for example, if your home was previously valued at $100,000, it cannot be revalued at more than $115,000. Applying the assessment ratio of 4% to that $115,000, your assessed value would be $4,600. Tax rates apply to that amount.
South Carolina Property Tax Rates
Tax rates are determined by local tax authorities by dividing the amount of revenue they need to meet their budget by the total assessed value in the tax jurisdiction. Tax rates are expressed in mills, which is equal to $1 of tax per $1,000 in assessed value. In recent years, the state's average total mill rate has been between 300 and 350 mills.
An effective tax rate represents the amount homeowners actually pay as a percentage of home value. The table below shows median home value, median annual property taxes and the average effective property tax rate for every South Carolina county.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
If saving on property taxes has you dreaming of buying a vacation home in Myrtle Beach, perhaps you should take a look at our guide to getting a mortgage in South Carolina, so you can be well-informed before taking this next step.
Located in northwest South Carolina, along the border with North Carolina, Greenville County is the most populous county in the state and has property tax rates slightly higher than the state average. The county’s average effective rate is 0.69%. The largest tax in Greenville County is the school district tax.
For example, in the Greenville school district, the total rate in 2017 was 191.8 mills, while the Greenville municipal mill rate was 85 mills and the county rate was 62.4 mills. That added up to a total rate of about 340 mills (which applies to assessed value).
Richland County is situated along the Congaree River in central South Carolina. It contains the state capital of Columbia. Richland County has the second highest average property tax rate in South Carolina: the county’s average effective property tax rate is 0.80%.
In Columbia, the total mill rate is over 500 mills. The countywide rate is 125.9 mills (as of 2017), the municipal rate in Columbia is 98 mills, and the school district rate for Richland District 1 is 323 mills.
Charleston County encompasses the city of Charleston in the southeastern portion of the state, near the Atlantic Ocean. The average effective property tax rate in Charleston County is just 0.51%, 11th lowest in the state.
However, homebuyers in Charleston County should keep in mind the cost of flood insurance. Even for homes that are not directly on the shore, flood insurance in Charleston County can cost thousands of dollars a year, often more than property taxes.
The median home value in Spartanburg County is among the lowest in the state, at $124,900 according to the US Census Bureau. So while rates in Spartanburg County are near the state average, the amount actually paid by homeowners in the county is much lower. The median annual property tax payment in Spartanburg County is just $797 per year.
Looking for low property taxes in South Carolina? You may want to check out Horry County. The average effective property tax rate in Horry County is just 0.37%, lowest in the state. At that rate, taxes on a home with a full market value of $200,000 would be $740 per year.
Lexington County is located adjacent to Richland County, just west of the city of Columbia. Property tax rates in Lexington County are significantly lower than those in Richland County. The average effective rate in Lexington County is 0.55%, compared with a rate of 0.80% in Richland County.
The seventh most populous county in South Carolina, York County has property tax rates close to the state average. The largest city in the county is Rock Hill. The total millage rate in Rock Hill is around 320 mills (as of 2017). The rate applies to assessed value, which for owner-occupied residences is equal to 4% of a home’s full market value.
Anderson County is located southwest of Greenville, along the Savannah River. The median property tax paid by homeowners in Anderson County is $7,410 per year. That is about one-third the national average.
Situated just north of the city of Charleston, Berkeley County contains Lake Moultrie and most of the Francis Marion National Forest. The average effective property tax rate in Berkeley County is 0.52%, slightly lower than the state average, and less than half the national average. The largest recipient of property tax revenues in the county is the local school district. The Berkeley School District mill rate is about 250 mills.
Beaufort County is located in the southeast corner of the state, just miles from Savannah, Georgia. While the county has among the lowest property tax rates in the state (the average effective rate is 0.50%), homeowners in Beaufort County pay the highest total annual taxes. The median annual property tax in Beaufort County is $1,373.
Property Tax: Which Counties are Getting the Best Bang for Their Buck
SmartAsset’s interactive map highlights the places across the country where property tax dollars are being spent most effectively. Zoom between states and the national map to see the counties getting the biggest bang for their property tax buck.
Our study aims to find the places in the United States where people are getting the most for their property tax dollars. To do this we looked at school rankings, crime rates and property taxes for every county.
As a way to measure the quality of schools, we analyzed the math and reading/language arts proficiencies for every school district in the country. We created an average score for each district by looking at the scores for every school in that district, weighting it to account for the number of students in each school. Within each state, we assigned every county a score between 1 and 10 (with 10 being the best) based on the average scores of the districts in each county.
For each county, we calculated the violent and property crimes per 100,000 residents.
Using the school and crime numbers, we calculated a community score. This is the ratio of the school rank to the combined crime rate per 100,000 residents.
We used the number of households, median home value and average property tax rate to calculate a per capita property tax collected for each county.
Finally, we calculated a tax value by creating a ratio of the community score to the per capita property tax paid. This shows us the counties in the country where people are getting the most bang for their buck, or where their property tax dollars are going the furthest.
Sources: US Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey, Department of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Police or Justice Department websites