FAQ's

Q. Is there a tax break for agricultural property?

A. Yes, SC Law provides for a substantial tax break on agricultural real property which is actually used for a bona fide agricultural use. There are two parts to this benefit. First, if qualified, the property's taxable value is based on "Use Value", which is less than the property's "Market Value". The "Use Value" is based on the productive capability of the soil type or types of the property. Second, the assessed value is 4% of the "Use Value", unless the property is owned by a corporation with ten (10) or more stockholders, then the applicable ratio is 6%.


Q. What must an agricultural real property owner do to get this tax benefit?

A. The owner must file an application with the Beaufort County Assessor. The filing period is January 1 through January 15 of the following year. Once the initial application is filed, it will automatically be renewed each year until there is a change in the property use/or a change in title. If a new application is required, one will be mailed on each previously qualified property to the owner's last known address. It is the owner's responsibility to make sure applications are timely filed.



Q. Is there a tax break for individuals 65 or older/100% disabled?

A. YES, contact the Beaufort County Auditor at 843-255-2500 for details about the HOMESTEAD Exemption.



Q. Is there a tax break available to full-time residents?

A. Yes, State Law provides for a 4 percent property assessment ratio on primary residences.

Effective for property tax years beginning after 2006 and to the extent not already exempt for Homestead purposes, one-hundred percent (100%) of the Fair Market Value of owner-occupied residential property eligible for and receiving the Special Assessment Ratio of 4% is EXEMPT from all property taxes imposed for school operating purposes but does not include millage imposed for debt purposes. This is an exemption granted to homeowners who have qualified for and received the special assessment ratio of 4%.

Application for the Special Assessment Ratio of 4% is available online at the Assessor's website at www.bcgov.net.   Applicant(s) must sign and certify to the following:

“Under penalty of perjury, I certify that:  (A) the residence which is the subject of this application is my legal residence and where I am domiciled at the time of this application and that neither I, nor any member of my household claim to be a legal resident of a jurisdiction other than South Carolina for any purpose; and (B) that neither I nor any member of my household claim the special assessment ratio allowed by this section on another residence.  ‘A member of my household’ means: (a) the owner-occupant’s spouse, except when that spouse is legally separated from the owner-occupant; and (b) any child under the age of eighteen years of the owner-occupant claimed or eligible to be claimed as a dependent on the owner-occupant’s federal income tax return.” ­

Please be aware of the following items that are required for eligibility of the Special Assessment Ratio (4%), both items are needed from you and your spouse.

•Copy of your South Carolina vehicle(s) registration                                                  

•Copy of your South Carolina driver's license or identification card

•Copy of owner-occupant's most recently filed South Carolina Income tax return

•Copy of your trust agreement if property is held in a trust

•If military provide copy of PCS Orders and Military/ Spouse ID


Q. What must the owner do to qualify his home for this tax break?

A. The owner must file an application with the County Assessor. The filing period is January 16 through January 15 of the following tax year.  Once the initial application is filed, it will automatically be renewed every year, unless there's a change in mailing address or a change in property's use. In accordance with the law, you must notify the Assessor within six months if you change your residency.

Q. Property Transferred into Trusts

A. The 4% Special Assessment ratio will be removed from properties transferred into a trust. However, state law provides that if residential real property is held in a trust and the income beneficiary of the trust occupies the property as their primary residence, the property may qualify for the 4% special assessment ratio. A new application is required in order to be reconsidered for the 4% Special Assessment ratio for tax year 2010. ADDITIONALLY, all applicant(s) must show proof they are the income beneficiaries to the trust by submitting the trust for review at one of our offices.

It is the owner's responsibility to make sure the initial application and future applications are filed on time.State law permits County Council to extend the filing deadline if an owner can show good and reasonable cause for filing late. The late application must be filed with a petition stating "satisfactory" reason and "reasonable cause" for not filing by the January 15 deadline.


Q. What is "THE MULTIPLE LOT DISCOUNT?"

A. (SC Code of Law Section 12-43-225)

There is a discount available for subdivided land, when certain qualifications are met. This discount is known as "The Multiple Lot Discount" or "The Developer Discount".

To qualify, the original plat must have contained at least 10 lots. Any lots applied for must be unsold or unimproved as of Jan. 1st of the tax year in which the discount is sought.  There are specific exceptions on sold lots that may result in a continuation of the discount. 

Legislation signed by Governor Haley on May 25, 2012 provides for an additional 3-year extension on lots that previously qualified on December 31, 2011; this is in addition to any remaining years left under the 5-year program.  In addition, if 10 or more lots are sold to persons in the business of real estate development, the remaining tax years discount will transfer to them upon application to the assessor.  Holders of South Carolina residential or commercial building license may also qualify for 3 years of lot discount eligibility, again on application to the assessor. 

Application must be received on or before May 1st of the tax year in which the discount is to apply.  Late applications are accepted within 30-days of the mailing of tax notices and must include a $100.00 late penalty fee payable to the Beaufort County Treasurer.

Q. What is Market Value?

A. Market Value is the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arms-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion.


Q. When is fair market value determined?

A. For property tax years beginning after 2006, the fair market value of real property is its fair market value applicable for the later of:

Appraised value applicable for property tax year 2007, or

As determined on an Appeal, or

As determined in a countywide reassessment program but limited to a 15%

increase within a five year period to the otherwise applicable fair market value, or

December 31st of the year in which an assessable transfer of interest

(Point of Sale) has occurred.


Q. What is an Assessable Transfer of Interest?

A. An Assessable Transfer of Interest (ATI) means a transfer of an existing interest in real property that subjects the property to appraisal. The date of the appraisal is December 31st of the year of transfer and represents the fair market value for property tax purposes following December 31st. Some examples are: Conveyance by deed, by land contract, conveyance to a trust, distribution from a trust or under a will. For additional information, contact the Beaufort County Assessor.

Q. How are appraisals determined?

A. Both mass appraisal and single-property appraisal are systematic methods for arriving at estimates of value. The scope and quality of the mass appraisal is measured with statistics developed from sales for the entire area appraised using the Assessor's valuation model. For more information contact the commercial or residential appraisal departments of the Assessor's office at 843-255-2400.

Q. When is the next reappraisal/reassessment?

A. The next reappraisal is in 2013. Originally scheduled for 2008, the last reappraisal was done in 2009.

Q. I no longer own this property. What should I do with the tax notice?

A. If ownership transferred in current year, forward tax notice to new owner or contact closing attorney for advice. If ownership transferred after January 1st, the new owner will be updated to Assessor file for the following tax year. If ownership transferred last year, call the Beaufort County Assessor's office at 843-255-2400.

Q. What is an assessment ratio?

A. The assessment ratio is simply a percentage (usually 4% or 6%) which is multiplied by the appraised value or the use value of a property to determine the assessed value.


Q. What is millage?

A. Millage is a term used to describe the rate of taxes levied. A mill is one dollar per one thousand dollars of assessed value.

$1 of Tax
$1,000 Assessed Value = $.001 = 1 Mil

County Council and the County Auditor determine the annual millage rate. The millage rate to be levied is determined by dividing the amount of revenue needed to fund the annual budget by the total assessed value.

Budget = $10,000,000
Assessed Value $200,000,000 = .050 = 50 Mills

Q. How Do I Change my Mailing Address?

A. Send your request for address change to the Beaufort County Assessor, PO Box 458, Beaufort, SC 29901. E-mail requests will be accepted providing owner verification, current mailing address, new address, property location, and tax parcel number is included in the email. Email to assessor@bcgov.net. If you need additional information please call the Assessor's office at 843-255-2400.

Q. Names are misspelled on tax notice, how do I correct this?

A. Refer to your deed. If the names are correct on the deed, call the Beaufort County Assessor's office at 843-255-2400. If the names are spelled incorrectly on the deed; contact attorney to record corrective deed at the Beaufort County Register of Deeds office.

Q. I received a rollback tax notice(s). What is it for?

A. When real property is valued, assessed and taxed as agricultural use and the use changes to other than agriculture, the property is subject to additional taxes. The rollback tax is the difference between the taxes paid on the valuation as agriculture property and the tax amount(s) based on the assessor's market value. A rollback tax is a current year tax based on prior year levies and payable as a current tax subject to specific due dates shown on the enclosed bill. Please read the tax notice for these important dates. Real property is subject to rollback taxes up to 5 years immediately proceeding the year the property use changed.

Q. When are real estate taxes due?

A. January 15th to avoid penalties.

Q. I never received my tax notice?

A. Call the Beaufort County Assessor's office at 843-255-2400.


Q. What is Reassessment?

A. A reassessment or equalization program is an effort to value all real property at its fair market value in an equitable and uniform manner. Real property is land and any improvements on it, such as a house, outbuilding, swimming pool, dock, etc. Mobile homes are considered real property for ad valorem purposes, even though the mobile home owner may not own the land under it. Only real property is appraised during reassessment. Values of personal property, such as automobiles, boats and airplanes, are kept current through the Department of Revenue & Taxation.


Q. Why reassess?

A. Reassessment is required by law.

South Carolina Code of Laws Section 12-43-217. Quadrennial reassessment; postponement ordinance:

(A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, once every fifth year each county or the State shall appraise and equalize those properties under its jurisdiction. Property valuation must be complete at the end of December of the fourth year and the county or State shall notify every taxpayer of any change in value or classification if the change is one thousand dollars or more. In the fifth year, the county or State shall implement the program and assess all property on the newly appraised values.

(B) A county by ordinance may postpone for not more than one property tax year the implementation of revised values resulting from the equalization program provided pursuant to subsection (A). The postponement ordinance applies to all revised values, including values for state-appraised property. The postponement allowed pursuant to this subsection does not affect the schedule of the appraisal and equalization program required pursuant to subsection (A) of this section.

All properties in this county were last reassessed in 2009. But these values changed over time, and properties in areas that are developing quickly appreciate more rapidly than properties in established areas where little change has taken place.



Q. What County Official is responsible for reassessment?


A. The Beaufort County Assessor who’s duties includes:

South Carolina Code of Laws Section 12-37-90:

The assessor is responsible for the operations of his office and shall:

•maintain a continuous record of recorded deed sales transactions, building permits, tax maps, and other records necessary for a continuing reassessment program;

• diligently search for and discover all real property not previously returned by the owners or their agents or not listed for taxation by the county auditor, and list such property for taxation in the name of the owner or person to whom it is taxable;

•when values change, reappraise and reassess real property so as to reflect its proper valuation in light of changed conditions, except for exempt property and real property required by law to be appraised and assessed by the department, and furnish a list of these assessments to the county auditor;

•determine assessments and reassessments of real property in a manner that the ratio of assessed value to fair market value is uniform throughout the county;

•appear as necessary before an appellate board to give testimony and present evidence as to the justification of an appraisal;

•have the right of appeal from a disapproval of or modification of an appraisal made by him;

•perform duties relating to the office of tax assessor required by the laws of this State;

•be the sole person responsible for the valuation of real property, except that required by law to be appraised and assessed by the department, and the values set by the assessor may be altered only by the assessor or by legally constituted appellate boards, the department, or the courts;

•have the right to enter and examine all new nonresidential buildings and structures and those portions of an existing nonresidential building or structure covered by a building permit for renovations or additions.


Q. How is property reassessed?

A. Real property is reassessed at fair market value using a "Mass Appraisal" process which may described as:

• “The process of valuing a universe of properties as of a given date using standard methodology, employing common data, and allowing for statistical testing.”

• It may also be described as the "appraisal of multiple properties", as of a given date, by a systematic and uniform application of appraisal methods and techniques that allow for statistical review and analysis of results. A mass appraisal establishes an individual property value (result) for each property in a group of properties as of a certain date"(date of value) .

 


Q. How does reassessment affect my tax bill?

A. In the year of reassessment the millage rate for all real and personal property must not exceed the rollback millage, except that the rollback millage may be increased by the percentage increase in the consumer price index for the year immediately preceding the year of reassessment. The Beaufort County Auditor is responsible for setting rollback millage rates.

 


Q. What if I do not agree with the value put on my property?

A. The Reassessment notices contains information on appeal procedures if you disagree with the value.

 


Q. When will I get my tax bill?

A. Tax bills are usually mailed in October. They are payable without penalty by the following January 15.

 


Q. How does the appraised value affect taxes?

 A. Residential property that is the owner's primary residence is assessed at 4 percent of its appraised value, providing proper application has been made. All other residential and commercial property is assessed at 6 percent. Industrial property, which is appraised by the Department of Revenue, is assessed at 10.5 percent.