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Auditor's Office

 

Contact Information, Office Hours, Functions, Office Responsibilities
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts
Current Elected Official Biographical Information
Tax-Related Forms and Information, Online Tax System

Functions

Calculation of Millage
Calculation and Billing of Taxes
Maintenance of Personal Property Records

The Auditor's offices calculates millage to satisfy annual budget requirements for Charleston County, including 41 municipalities and other taxing authorities.  In addition, this office calculates, creates and mails tax bills for real estate, mobile homes, motor vehicles, watercraft, aircraft and business-owned personal property.

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This Office Does

 

dot  Calculate, create and mail tax bills for all real and personal property
dot  Provide customer services at each Service Center
dot  Update and maintain archival records of all sales or conveyances of real property, including plat measurement changes
dot  Update and maintain records of all real and personal property
dot  Update and maintain current addresses of real estate property owners for tax billing
dot  Accept applications and qualify taxpayer requests for Homestead Exemptions on primary residences
dot  Process claims for tax refunds on real and personal property
dot  Calculate and issue agricultural property tax rollback bills
dot  Process motor vehicle high-mileage and reappraisal appeals
dot  Process motor vehicle license plate returns and tax refunds
dot  Provide public access to and assistance with archival property records of real estate transactions and plat revisions
dot  Assess business personal property, rental residential property, motor vehicles, boats and motors, and aircraft
dot  Qualify 4 percent assessment ratios for live-aboard boat owners claiming the boat as their primary residence


This Office Does Not

dot  Set tax rates (See County Council, Municipalities and Public Service Districts )
dot  Determine how taxes are used (See County Council, municipalities and public service districts)
dot  Administer the waste disposal user fee (See Revenue Collections)
dot  Accept tax payments (See Treasurer)
dot  Collect delinquent tax payments (See Delinquent Taxes)
dot  Assess the value of real estate (See Assessor)
dot  Approve the 4 percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential real estate property (See Assessor)
dot  Issue mobile home decals (See Assessor)


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Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How are property taxes calculated?
A: Each piece of property is assessed based on its use. An assessment ratio is applied to the market value of the property to determine the assessed value of the property. The applicable millage rates are multiplied by the assessed value to determine the tax due.
Q: What are the various assessment rates currently in use?
A: The current assessment ratios for the state of South Carolina are as follows:
Primary Residences 4 percent fair market value
Other Real Estate 6 percent fair market value
Personal Property (some motor vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, business personal property) 10.5 percent fair market value
Commercial boats 5 percent fair market value
Primary-residence boats 4 percent fair market value
Agricultural Property (privately owned) 4 percent fair market value
Agricultural Property (corporate owned) 6 percent use value
Manufacturing & Utility Property 10.5 percent fair market value
Railroad, Airline, & Pipeline Property 9.5 percent fair market value
Q: What is "Property Tax Relief" and who qualifies for it?
A: Property Tax Relief is an exemption from school operating millage on residential property. South Carolina law allows this exemption for taxpayers who own the home in which they reside (legal residence). It is an automatic exemption for homeowners who have been granted the 4 percent primary residence assessment ratio. No application is necessary.
Q: What is the "Homestead Exemption" and who qualifies for it?
A:

The S.C. Homestead Tax Exemption Program is for homeowners who are age 65 or older and/or totally disabled and/or totally blind. The program exempts up to $50,000 of the value of the home including up to five contiguous acres of property. The homeowner must have been a legal resident of South Carolina for at least one year on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption and have been approved for the 4 percent primary residence assessment ratio. To receive the exemption, the homeowner must file an application with the County Auditor. Proof of eligibility is required (ie. Medicaid or Medicare card, birth certificate or driver's license if applying due to age; certification from a state or federal agency if applying because of disability or blindness).

Q: I received a tax bill on a motor vehicle that I have sold. What do I need to do?
A: If you did not transfer your license plate to another vehicle, you may disregard the tax bill. When you sell (or otherwise dispose of) a vehicle, you may turn in the license plate to the Auditor's office and be reimbursed for the unused months remaining on the registration.
Q: If I want to transfer my license plate to a replacement vehicle, what do I need to do?
A: Take the registration for your previous vehicle and the Bill of Sale for your replacement vehicle to the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and register your replacement vehicle. You will not need to pay taxes on the replacement vehicle until the registration on your previous one expires.
Q: If I move out of this state, what should I do with my South Carolina license plate?
A: You can mail or take your South Carolina plate and registration to the Auditor's office and receive a refund of the unused months. You must provide proof of registration in the new state to receive the refund.


Additional questions



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Common Terms

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

Appraised Value-- Also known as fair or true market value, it is the actual market value of a property.

Assessed Value-- The appraised value of a property multiplied by its assessment ratio.

Assessment Ratio-- The ratio applied to the appraised value of property depending on the use of the property. Assessment ratio qualifications are set forth by state law.

Levy-- To impose or collect.

Millage Rate-- The ratio used to determine the individual tax to be levied on a property. A mill is equivalent to 1/1000 of a dollar. For example, if the millage rate is 200 mills and the assessed value of a property is $1,000, the tax on that property is $200.

Personal Property-- This category includes motor vehicles, watercraft, aircraft, and business personal property.

Real Property-- More widely known as real estate, it includes land, buildings, and mobile homes.

History

The Constitution of 1868 gave members of the S.C. General Assembly the authority to create the first office of County Auditor. By state law, each of the 46 counties in South Carolina has an Auditor's Office. Charleston County Auditors are elected to four-year terms in the General Election.

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Interesting Facts

dot  The Auditor's office calculates and mails over 500,000 tax bills every year.
dot  The Auditor's downtown office maintains records for over 200,000 parcels of real property, 200,000 motor vehicles, 24,000 watercraft, 250 aircraft and 20,000 business personal properties.
dot The Auditor's downtown office maintains an archival record, called a Property Record Card, detailing the history of each individual parcel of real property in the county. These records are updated to indicate all deed, court order, and plat changes that have affected ownership of a parcel of property since 1962. These records can be accessed online at www.charlestoncounty.org.


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Contact Information

Charleston County Auditor
101 Meeting Street
P.O. Box 614
Charleston, SC 29402-0614
Telephone (843) 958-4200
Fax (843) 958-4222

E-mail contacts

Service Centers :
          East Cooper Service Center
          1189  Sweetgrass Basket Pkwy - Suite 400
          Mount Pleasant, SC 29466
          (843) 856-1200
          (843) 856-1204 (Fax)

North Charleston Service Center
4045 Bridge View Drive
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 202-6692
(843) 202-6698 (Fax)

St. Paul's Service Center
5962 Highway 165, Suite 300
Ravenel, SC 29470
(843) 889-8351
(843) 889-8077 (Fax)

Directions

Office Hours

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

Service Center Hours

East Cooper Service Center
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

North Charleston Service Center
Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

St. Paul's Service Center
Monday-Friday
8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
and 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

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