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Assessor's Office

Contact Information , Office Hours
Functions , Office Responsibilities
FAQ's , Common Terms , History , Interesting Facts
Tax-Related Information

Article 25, SC Real Property Valuation Reform Act
 

Appeals
 

Functions

Real Property Appraisal
Mobile Home Appraisal

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.

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Contact Information:

O.T. Wallace County Office Building                    Mobile Homes Division
101 Meeting Street, Suite 135                              101 Meeting Street, Suite 135                               Charleston, SC 29401                                           Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-4100                                                       (843) 958-4151 / 958-4142
                                           

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 427
Charleston, SC 29402

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

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What This Office Does

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Appraise real property and titled mobile homes for ad valorem tax purposes

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Handle appeals on the value of real property appraised by the Assessor’s office (see Frequently asked questions)

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Review and approve or disapprove real properties for the legal residence special assessment. An application must be filed, and legal deadlines apply.

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Review and approve or disapprove real properties for the agricultural use special assessments. An application must be filed and legal deadlines apply.

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Handle appeals on legal residence and agricultural special assessments.

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Produce an annual certified assessment roll for ad valorem taxation for all properties within the Assessor's jurisdiction

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Maintain records of deed sale transactions, building permits, tax maps and other records necessary for a continuous reassessment program

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Represent the County in property tax appeals to the Board of Assessment Appeals and the Administrative Law Judge Division

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Enforce County ordinances regarding the transportation of mobile homes

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Maintain the inventory of mobile homes in the County

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This Office DOES NOT

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Calculate real or personal property tax bills or send tax bills to tax payers (See the Auditors Office website for contact information or for a tax calculator)

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Accept or process any real or personal property tax payments (see the Treasurers Office website for contact information)

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Approve, grant or qualify the homestead exemption (see the Auditors Office website)

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Approve or grant exemptions for disabled persons

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Appraise or assess manufacturing, railroad or utility property.  Those properties are the responsibility of the SC Department of Revenue.  Note: this is not the County Department of Revenue Collections – the SC DOR is a state agency.

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Appraise or assess personal property such as cars or boats, airplanes, recreational vehicles, business personal property (see Auditors Office)

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Calculate, bill or administer the solid waste disposal fee (see the Revenue Collections  department website)

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Calculate, bill or administer the storm water fee, this is the responsibility of the Public Works Department

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Handle delinquent tax bills, delinquent tax sales, or payments (see Delinquent Tax Office website for contact information on delinquent property)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

Valuation of Property:
What are the methods for determining value?
 

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.
 

Q:

Legal Residence:
How do I obtain the legal residence special assessment ratio.
 

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 appear on the back of the form (second page in web version).  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 are deadlines to file the application, they are shown on the form.
 

Q:

Appeals Of Real Property:
If I disagree with the Assessor's appraisal of my property, how can I appeal?

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 2013, the last day to file an objection (appeal) is January 15th 2014. 

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:

  1. Identify the property in question, preferably by use of the Parcel ID Number. Street addresses may be used.
  2. The letter must contain an original signature. If the signature is not legible, writing the name of the signer below the signature is helpful.
  3. A daytime phone number is needed.

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.


 

Q:

Notice Of Change Of Classification Appraisal And Assessment:
What is a notice of property tax assessment and why would I receive one?  Is it my bill?
 

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.
 

Q:

Paying Your Bill on Time:
If I have not gotten a response to my appeal or my application for a special assessment or exemption, do I have to pay my bill on the due date?
 

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.
 

Q:

Deadlines for Applications:
What deadlines apply for applications for special assessments?
 

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 one 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.

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Definitions/Common Terms

Ad Valorem Tax-- (Latin for according to value) A tax imposed on properties in proportion to each property’s value. The most common are the ad valorem taxes imposed on real and personal property, which are based on either the assessed or the appraised values. 

Appraised Property Value or Market Value-- Also known as Actual or Market Value or Fair Market Value, it is the true market value of a property.  This is the price a property would bring after adequate exposure to the open market, in an arms length, negotiated transaction with both parties being knowledgeable and informed, and neither under undue pressure.

Assessed Property Value-- The amount of a property's value that will to be taxed, as determined by the Assessor.  To determine the assessed value, the appraised value is multiplied by the appropriate assessment ratio as noted below.

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Owner-occupied and agricultural properties are assessed at 4 percent of their appraisal value.

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Commercial and non owner-occupied residential properties are assessed at 6 percent.

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Manufacturing properties are assessed at 10.5 percent of the appraised value (determined by the S.C. Department of Revenue).

Legal Residence Special Assessment-- Owners who occupy the property as their legal residence can apply to have the property are assessed at 4 percent of the property's appraised value (as compared to 6 percent).   To qualify, the owner must occupy the residence during the tax year as his or her sole legal residence, and submit an application before the first penalty date for taxes.  Other restrictions apply.  The application can be found on the County web site.

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History

In 1960, the Charleston County Board of Assessors was founded with the purpose of establishing an equalization and reassessment program for Charleston County. In 1966, the S.C. General Assembly abolished the Board of Assessors and created the Board of Assessment Control and the Board of Assessment Appeals. The enabling act specified that the members of both boards would be appointed by the Governor, upon the majority recommendation of each county's House Delegation and the concurrence of one-half its Senators. The act also gave the Board of Assessment Control authority to appoint the Assessor and power to enter into a contract for not more than five years.

With the passage of the Home Rule Act in 1975, Charleston County Council assumed all appointive powers of the Charleston County Board of Assessment Control and the Charleston County Board of Assessment Appeals. On Sept.5, 1995, Charleston County dissolved the Board of Assessment Control and gave the Charleston County Administrator the power to hire an Assessor, whose duties would be set forth by state law. The Administrator assigned the hiring and supervisory functions to the Deputy Administrator.

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Interesting Facts

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The last countywide reassessment was scheduled to be implemented in 2010, but the county, by ordinance delayed implementation until 2011, as allowed by state law.  Reassessments are scheduled every five years, so the next reassessment is scheduled to be implemented in 2015. Postponement does not affect the date of value used for reassessment, it only affects when taxpayers are notified of value changes and when taxes are based on the new values.

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