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%, well below the national average of 1.08%.
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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 taxes of any state in the U.S. The average effective property tax rate in South Carolina is just 0.57%, with a median annual property tax payment of $851.
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.
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.
A financial advisor in South Carolina can help you understand how homeownership fits into your overall financial goals. Financial advisors can also help with investing and financial plans, including taxes, homeownership, retirement and more, to make sure you are preparing for the future.
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 the median home value, median annual property tax payment and average effective property tax rate for every South Carolina county.
|County||Median Home Value||Median Annual Property Tax Payment||Average Effective Property Tax Rate|
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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 2018 was 196.9 mills, while the Greenville municipal mill rate was 85.3 mills and the county rate was 62.4 mills. That added up to a total rate of about 344.6 mills, which applies to your home's assessed value.
If you have questions about how property taxes can affect your overall financial plans, a financial advisor in Greenville can help you out.
Richland County is situated along the Congaree River in central South Carolina. It contains the state capital of Columbia. Richland County has the third highest average property tax rate in South Carolina, as its effective rate stands at 0.79%.
In Columbia, the total mill rate is more 500 mills. As of 2018, the countywide rate is 129.8 mills, the municipal rate in Columbia is 98.1 mills and the school district rate for Richland District 1 is 332.8 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 0.48%, seventh 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 $128,000, which places it about $20,000 lower than the state median. So while the 0.64% average effective rate in Spartanburg County is higher than the state average of 0.57%, the amount actually paid by homeowners in the county is lower than the state mark. The median annual property tax payment in Spartanburg County is just $823 per year.
Looking for a place with 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 only $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 0.79% rate 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 418.1 mills, as of 2018. That 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 $755 per year. That means the effective property tax rate in the county is 0.56%, on 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 0.54%, which is slightly lower than the state average and just about half of the national average. The largest recipient of property tax revenues in the county is local school districts. The Berkeley School District mill rate is about 240 mills.
Beaufort County is located in the southeast corner of the state, just a few 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 $1,427, as the county's median home value is also the highest at $283,800.
Places Receiving the Most Value for Their Property Taxes
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 value for their property tax dollars. To do this, we looked at property taxes paid, school rankings and the change in property values over a five-year period.
First, 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.
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.
Then, we calculated the change in property tax value in each county over a five-year period. Places where property values rose by the greatest amount indicated where consumers were motivated to buy homes, and a positive return on investment for homeowners in the community.
Finally, we calculated a property tax index, based on the criteria above. Counties with the highest scores were those where property tax dollars are going the furthest.