The Assessor's Office locates, lists and appraises the value of approximately 170,000 real property parcels and 9,000 titled mobile homes in Charleston County. It is the Assessor's responsibility to ensure that all properties are appraised fairly and equitably at market value or special use value if applicable.
Approximately 36 percent of Charleston County's general revenues come from property taxes generated through the appraisal of real property. Property owners each pay a share of the cost of County services by paying taxes proportional to the value of their property. The property taxes are generally based on the market value of the land, buildings and site improvements. In some instances, special value methods or assessment methods are applied if allowed by law or mandated by state statutes.
P.O. Box 427
Charleston, SC 29402
Mobile Homes Division
101 Meeting Street, Suite 135
Charleston, SC 29401
Mon. - Fri. 8:30am - 5pm
A: There are three methods typically used by appraisers to value real property. These are the Cost Approach, Sales Comparison Approach and Income Approach. Not every method is applicable to every property.
The cost approach is based on the principle of substitution: that a rational, informed purchaser would pay no more than the cost of building an acceptable substitute with similar utility after accounting for land and any depreciation or deterioration.
The sales comparison approach is also based on the principle of substitution: it uses sales of similar properties as a basis for comparison. It is rooted in the principal that the arms length, negotiated sale price of similar properties, best indicates the market value of the subject property. Adjustments must be made for differences in attributes, such as location, size, quality, condition, special features.
The income approach is based on the anticipated income stream generated by the use of the property and the desired return on investment. In this approach, the income (net or gross) a property will generate is estimated. Capitalization rates (rate of return) or multipliers are used to predict value. This approach is used primarily for commercial and rental property.
A: You apply and provide the required proof that your only legal residence is in Charleston County.
Note: the legal residence application can be found on the county web site. It cannot be filed electronically, although you may print it out and send it in, or deliver it in person. The relevant code sections are summarized on the back (second page) of the application itself. In addition, the entire code and instructions for filing the application are included with the application on the website. The form will answer many questions, but it is legal in nature. If you have questions, call the number shown under the Contact section of the Assessor's website. There is a deadline to file the application, it is shown on the form. Filing as early in the year as possible is highly recommended, once tax bills are mailed the number of applications received per week soar and the number received per week continues to climb as the end of the year and the last day to pay taxes near. Backlogs develop that cannot be avoided.
A: Under South Carolina law, legal deadlines apply to objecting to (appealing) property values and classification of property. The Assessor has no authority to waive legal deadlines. The determination as to whether or not the deadline was met is based on the postmark date on the envelope not the date received. Various delivery services other than the US Postal Service also provide date marks or verification of mailing date similar to postmarks. If the taxpayer does not deliver the objection by hand, the postmark will be the deciding factor. Taxpayers may hand deliver objections to the ASSESSORS office or mail letters of objection to the address shown under the contact information.
Objections (appeals) must be filed with the ASSESSOR's office. No other county official can accept an objection (appeal). Objections must be in writing and cannot be accepted by email or fax as an original signature is required. Phone calls, faxes and emails do not preserve appeal rights. It is not necessary to send a letter of objection "return receipt requested", but it may provide peace of mind that the letter of objection was received. If a letter is sent return receipt requested, hold onto the returned receipt until contacted by the Assessor's office or until a response is received.
If a Notice of Change of Classification Appraisal and Assessment is sent during the year, appeal rights expire within either 90 days or 30 days of date the notice was mailed. The deadline is shown on the Notice. A form to appeal is provided with most Notices for convenience, and mailing instructions are included. If a Notice is sent for a reason unrelated to an already filed appeal, then the appeal deadline stated on the notice applies, and the owner must re-appeal within that deadline if they still disagree with the value or classification.
If no Notice is sent the taxpayer has until the last day to pay taxes without penalty to appeal for that tax year. Generally that date is January 15th, but it is extended until the next working day if that is a holiday or weekend.
For Tax Year 2014, the last day to file an objection (appeal) is January 15th 2015.
Taxpayers are urged to file objections for any tax year early in the year (in the spring if possible). Objections are handled in the order received. Many taxpayers wait until December and January to file. Filing an objection does not relieve the taxpayer of the obligation to pay the current bill while the objection process proceeds. For that reason filing well before bills are issued is advised.
A letter of objection must contain the following information:
It is not necessary to provide detailed reasoning for the appeal at the time of the initial letter of objection, but it may assist the appraiser prior to contacting you regarding the issue. There is a process to be followed after the letter is received, and subsequent deadlines apply to those steps.
A: A notice of property tax assessment is not a property tax bill. It will clearly state that is not a property tax bill. In general, a Notice of Change of Classification Appraisal and Assessment informs the owner of a value change, or of approval, removal or denial of various exemptions or special assessments. Notices relating to value changes are sent primarily the year after a change is made to a property, after an error is discovered, after the property transfers, or there is a countywide reassessment. Some of the changes that may trigger a notice are new buildings, new improvements, renovations, additions, subdividing a property, etc. Other circumstances may apply that cause a notice to be sent, such as response to a filed appeal. Appeal periods are stated on the notice. Most notices have an appeal form incorporated into the notice. Typically, notices begin going out early in the summer for the current tax year, and continue to be sent in batches until all filed applications and appeals are handled for the year. After that manual notices are sent individually. Most notices go out prior to tax bills. However, since some applications and some appeals are not due until the middle of January following the bill date, notices follow after those applications and appeals are received and handled. See the question on deadlines that can be found below.
A: Yes, you must pay your bill on the due date, which is typically January 15th unless that date falls on a holiday or weekend, in which case the bill is due the next work day. If an appeal or application is pending at the time the bill is due, you must pay your bill and await an adjustment if one is made. Penalties and/or interest begin to accrue on the first day to pay without penalty and will not be waived.
A: Deadlines indicate postmark date, not the received date. The applications for various special assessments can be found on the Charleston County website. All the application forms clearly indicate the deadline that applies to that particular exemption or special assessment. For most applications the application must be filed no later than January 15th unless that date falls on a weekend or holiday. One application in particular does not have a due date tied to the penalty date. That is the application for Multiple Lot Ownership Discount. It is due on or before May 1st. Please consult the specific application for each deadline.
Appeal deadlines are covered in the section on appeals and vary. It is not one deadline.
Note that electronic submissions of appeals and/or applications is not allowed, nor are faxed submittals acceptable. All the applications require an original signature, therefore the original must be sent in or delivered.
Filing Applications Early:
Many people wait to appeal or file various applications until after tax bills go out (usually in late September or early October). Many others file applications or appeals right before the end of the calendar year, right before the stated appeal deadline, or right before the last day to pay without penalty.
Because of the influx of applications near the end of the year, unavoidable backlogs develop beginning in early October and increase in size as the year progresses, continuing into the early part of the next year. Expertise is required in the approval or denial of various applications. While the Assessor's office makes every effort to process applications in a timely fashion, filing applications as early in the year as possible helps ensure the issuance of a correct initial tax bill. Applications that are filed in the early spring or summer usually result in the initial tax bill going out correctly. Sending in incomplete applications, applications that do not provide the required proof, and failure to sign applications or appeals all delay processing.
Similarly, if a notice of change is sent, appealing soon after receipt is better than waiting until the last day. Notices are sent out in large batches, often in the thousands or tens of thousand. Therefore many people have the same deadlines.
It is not necessary to send applications or appeal letters "return receipt requested", but it may provide peace of mind that the letter or application was received. If a letter or application is sent return receipt requested, hold onto the returned receipt until contacted by the Assessor's office or until a response is received.
IF YOU CAN'T REACH US BY PHONE: Tax bills will typically be mailed the first week of October. The mailing of tax bills calls high volumes of phone calls to the Auditor, Assessor and Treasurer's Offices. It is important to us to address each caller's concerns and provide individuals with explanations and answers they deserve. The County has prepared a list of the frequently asked questions staff receives after tax bills are mailed, so please review the answers below before calling.
If you have read the frequently asked questions and still have further questions, we encourage you to keep trying to reach us.
In order to speed up the process of assisting you, please have the following information handy when you call:
PIN formerly called Parcel ID/PID (left side of bill, a few lines down)
Street address of the property
Summary of the issue you want to discuss
If there is no PIN (Parcel ID) on the bill, do not call the Assessor's Office; you are looking at a personal property bill and need to call the Auditor's Office.
Taxpayers who have escrow accounts call with concerns that the bills may not have gone to their mortgage company.
The Charleston County Treasurer's Office ensures that copies of Charleston County real property tax bills have been sent to mortgage companies.
Citizens with mortgage company questions should call the County Treasurer at (843) 958-4360.
CARS, BOATS, BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY QUESTIONS:
Call the Auditor's Office at (843) 958-4200.
Deadline to appeal
If you received a Notice from the Assessors office your appeal rights expire on the day indicated on that notice- usually either 30 or 90 days after the notice was mailed. If you did not receive a Notice from the Assessor's office the appeal period for Tax Year 2014 closes January 15, 2015. A Notice is not a tax bill. Over half of all taxpayers appeal in December through the middle of January. Appeals are handled in the order received and there is a process to be followed. File your appeal early to avoid delays caused by volume.
Paying your tax bill while under appeal:
All objections (appeals) received are acknowledged in writing, information on paying tax bills while under appeal is included in our acknowledgement.
If your appeal has not been resolved by the time the bill is due, you must pay your bill as issued no later than the due date.
If you do not pay your bill on time, the law requires that additional charges (interest and penalties) be applied that cannot be waived.
If a change is made after the bill is due that reduces the bill, a refund will be issued automatically.
LEGAL RESIDENCE QUESTIONS:
If your concern about 4% is based on a change (increase) in your bill, look at the ASSESSMENT RATIO box at the top of the bill. If this box says "QR4", your property is at 4%.
The file for billing reflected applications approved and processed by the third week of September. Very high volumes of applications are received late in the third quarter and during the fourth quarter of the year, resulting in a backlog. Approvals are processed and posted daily, including updates to the web bills.
If you have filed an application and your bill is due, you must pay the bill as issued and await a refund if your application for legal residence is approved.
If you do not pay your bill on time, the law requires that additional charges (interest and penalties) be applied that cannot be waived.
If the Assessor's Office has questions about your application or needs additional information, you will be contacted about specific issues in writing.
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