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Auditor

Location: 129 Screven Street
Telephone: (843) 545-3021
Fax: 843-545-3284

Hours: 8:30 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (except for legal holidays)
Mailing address: P.O. Box 421270, Georgetown, SC 29442-4200
Contact: Brian D. Shult, Auditor / Jessie G. Duncan, Deputy Auditor

Auditor's Office Forms:

Links:

MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED TAX QUESTIONS

Q: I’m new to South Carolina. How do I register my vehicles? Where do I start?
A: Please bring your current registration from your previous state of residence if you have a lien on the vehicle. If you own the vehicle, bring title with you. If the vehicle is leased, bring a copy of the lease and power of attorney from the leasing company with you. Please make note of your odometer reading. We will check for high mileage credit. We will generate a tax notice for you to pay. You will then take the paid tax receipt to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office along with your paperwork to receive a S.C. license plate. Annually, you will receive a tax notice.

Q: I’ve just purchased a vehicle. What do I need to do?
A: If you purchased the vehicle through a dealer, you need to know if the dealer is securing a license plate for you from the Department of Motor Vehicles. If they are, they will submit an affidavit of your purchase to the DMV and we will generate a tax notice from this information and mail a notice to you that is due within 120 days of your purchase.

If the dealer is not purchasing your plate, you will need to bring a copy of the bill of sale with lien holder recorded on it or a title (if vehicle has no lien) in order for the auditor to produce a tax notice. You would then take your tax receipt along with the other required documents (including proof of vehicle insurance) to complete the registration process and secure a plate at the DMV.

If you are transferring license plates from one vehicle you own to the new vehicle, bring in the registration for the vehicle to which the plate was transferred.

Q: I have moved from one county to another in South Carolina. What should I do?
A: When moving from county to county in the state of South Carolina, you should make sure that you change your address on your driver’s licenses and registration of every vehicle you own. Keep in mind that we receive DMV records a few months in advance to prepare vehicle renewals on a monthly basis; so you might receive a bill from your previous county. If you do, bring in the bill from the previous county before the end of the month of expiration to have a tax notice prepared. If you do not receive a bill from the previous county, bring in your last registration card and we can produce a bill for you. Then you will need to take the paid tax receipt to DMV to receive your decal.

* Vehicle values will be obtained through valuations provided by the state. Department of Revenue.

Please do not ask us to change owner’s names or addresses. You may access the DMV website, to do so.

Q: HOW CAN I GET MY TAXES LOWERED?
A: First, do you live in Georgetown County and are you getting 4 percent on your real property? If not, then you may want to talk to the assessor’s office (843-545-3014). Secondly, you may be eligible for Homestead Exemption on your real property, based on age (65 or older) on Dec. 31 of the previous year, length of residency in the state (one full calendar year), and ownership of your home (must own your home, fee simple title). Please call our office to inquire about trusts and whether you would qualify. You may also qualify if you are totally and permanently disabled. We would need a T-2, T-16 form from the Social Security Administration to apply.

If you are a 100 percent service-connected disabled veteran, you may be eligible for reductions or exemptions on your vehicle taxes or possibly real property. You may want to contact Veterans Administration for documentation.

If you have applied to and received an exemption from the South Carolina Department of Revenue, you may be exempt from taxes on real property, vehicles or both. DOR notifies this office of all exemptions.

Q: CAN’T I GET A REDUCTION ON MY BOAT, CAMPER or RV TAXES?
A: Both the Georgetown County Council and the state legislature have given a way in which you may get a tax reduction provided the following:

  • For the 4 percent tax ratio, the boat, camper /RV must be in an individual name. One other qualifying boat shall be considered secondary residence and receive 6 percent. For these purposes, an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership and "S" corporation including a limited liability company taxes as sole proprietorship, partnership or "S" corporation would qualify.
  • It has a head, bed and galley.
  • You are taking the IRS interest deduction on the boat, camper or RV (you can take the deduction on your primary home and one other second home, or boat, if you are treating that as a second home).
  • Your boat was in Georgetown County on Dec. 31 of the previous year.
  • You have applied for this reduced ratio.

If you believe you qualify on all of the requirements mentioned, we will send you an application for the reduced tax ratio. You can apply for 6 percent as second home or 4 percent if you live on the boat/camper and have asked the assessor for legal residence in Georgetown County if you live aboard.

Q: WHY IS THIS TAX BILL SO HIGH ON MY BUSINESS?
A: Each April, businesses are to file a business personal property return with either the state or the county, depending on your business type.
You may have received an estimated bill from either this office or the SC Department of Revenue. If you are in the service industry and did not file a Business Personal Property return with us or if you have a retail sales license and did not file with state Department of Revenue, you were taxed based on an estimated assessed value. You will have to file an amended return in order to get the tax bill reduced.

Q: WHAT IS THIS INFORMATION ABOUT MAKING TAX INSTALLMENT PAYMENTS?
A: As the flyer in your tax notice states, you can make advance payments toward your real estate taxes if you are eligible. The taxes covered by this would only be for land, buildings or mobile homes. Business, vehicles, boat/motor or taxes paid through an escrow account are not eligible. Those wanting to participate will make five advance payments based on the previous year’s taxes paid. If you need additional information, the Treasurer’s Office can assist, 843-545-3098.

Q: CAN I GET A REDUCTION ON MY VEHICLE TAXES?
A: You can apply for high mileage on your vehicle by completing the form on this website and emailing it or faxing the specific odometer reading to us along with your tax notice. We will then compare with our state Department of Revenue guidelines and determine if you qualify and reply by fax, email, or when you come into our office. Please note that you must apply for the high mileage before paying your vehicle tax. The auditor’s office reserves the right to check any odometer reading to verify.

OTHER WAYS TO HELP YOURSELF INCLUDE

• Completing a SC Department of Natural Resources Disposal or Change of Address Form for Watercraft (includes boat and motor) when you sell, sink or change ownership of any watercraft. The form is available through the auditor’s office as well as the SCDNR website. You are taxed on personal property, including boats and motors that you own as of Dec. 31 of the preceding tax year. For example, you sold a boat/motor in May. You would be responsible for the taxes for that year, the year in which the boat/motor was sold. The Disposal Form will follow the watercraft to the new owner for the following tax year. Selling a boat/motor knowing that taxes are due is serious and carries penalties. Check the SCDNR website. You can also check to see if taxes are due before buying the boat/motor. Again, the SCDNR website will assist you.

• Turning your license plates into the SC Department of Motor Vehicles when you sell a vehicle after title has changed. Then, the vehicle should no longer be in your name for taxing purposes.

• Immediately notifying the auditor’s office when closing a business. If you have filed a local 322 form for Business Personal Property, we need to know. If you have filed an annual DOR PT-100 form, you need to complete a new PT-100 for the State Department of Revenue showing the date of closure as well as other requested information. All retail and sales licenses should be turned into DOR if the business has closed. This form is available in the auditor’s office and can be faxed to you upon request. Also, you need to file a local 322 or PT-100 each year by April 30 on your business. Failure to do so will lead to a higher estimated value of your furniture, fixtures, equipment plus penalties.

Completing a Residential Rental Return Form sent to you by the auditor’s office. If you own a second home, you should be receiving a Residential Rental Return in the spring of each year. If you do not complete the form and return it to us, you will receive a tax notice with estimated values and penalties. If you do rent, you will complete the return as requested and send it back to us. You will then receive a tax notice that year.

Q: WHAT IS THIS SCHOOL TAX CREDIT SAVINGS?
A: The state legislature passed property tax reform measures which include giving all permanent 4 percent homeowners credit on all of the school operating taxes, meaning that you are not paying any of the school district’s operating taxes, only the school bonds. In most cases, taxpayers will see a reduction in their notices. It depends on the value of the property and the tax district in which you live. This credit is not applied on the tax bills of business or personal property, or 6 percent property owners (land, second home owners). This credit does not appear on your vehicle, boat or other personal property notices.

Q: WHAT IS THIS STORMWATER FEE THAT’S ON MY BILL?
A: This fee was approved by County Council to meet federal guideline requirements for addressing storm water issues and has been placed on the tax notices of some property owners in the county (excluding Georgetown City, Town of Andrews, and the Town of Pawleys Island). If you have any other questions about the fee on your bill, please call the Storm Water Engineering Department, 843-545-3524.

Q: WHY IS A HOUSEHOLD FEE LISTED?
A: We can tell you that the fee is $44 and appears on your tax bill. If you need more information on the reasons, the county’s Environmental Services office can assist. Their number is 843-545-3449.

Q: ISN’T THERE A CAP ON THE MILLAGE?
A: There is a cap based on CPI (Consumer Price Index) and a population growth figure, effective the 2007 tax year. The taxing entities are to stay within these caps.

Q: WHAT ABOUT THE 15 PERCENT CAP ON REAL ESTATE?
A: The assessor’s office would be better prepared to answer your questions on that question about values versus taxes. That number is 843-545-3014.

Q: WHAT IS THIS LANDFILL FEE ON MY TAX NOTICE?
A: We are not equipped with information on that, but can refer you to the county’s Environmental Services Department, 843-545-3449.

Q: WHAT IS THIS COMMERCIAL LANDFILL FEE – MY BUSINESS IS IN THE CITY?
A: This fee is charged to commercial garbage users in the City of Georgetown, and Towns of Andrews and Pawleys Island at a rate of $22 per can per pickup. For more information, the county’s Environmental Services Department can assist you. That number is 843-545-3449.

Q: WHAT IF I WANT TO APPEAL THE ASSESSED VALUE OF MY REAL PROPERTY?
A: Contact the assessor who would have the applicable forms

Q: WHAT IF I WANT TO APPEAL THE ASSESSED VALUE OF MY PERSONAL PROPERTY?
A: Please pick up and fill out an appeal form from the auditor's office.

AS WITH ANY TAX ISSUES, WE ARE HERE TO ASSIST BY TELEPHONE, E-MAIL, FAX OR IN THE OFFICE. WE APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE YOU.

Department Functions:

Annually prepares a complete listing and description of all taxable real and personal property within the county, political subdivisions, and special purpose districts; by owner, type of property, levy, location, and assessed value. Derived from the S.C. Constitution, Article 10, paragraph 1 and general law are the powers and duties of the statutory office of county auditor to levy ad valorem taxes.

  • Calculates levies; determines and recommends annually certain mandated levies applicable to all assessed values
  • Levies for general obligation bonds for counties and schools
  • Levies for maintenance of school districts’ minimum local financial effort
  • Levies for increases in maintenance and operation of special purpose districts
  • Makes appropriate changes to the tax duplicate Values and assesses certain classes of personal property, business property, motor vehicles, watercraft and aircraft based on guides provided by the Department of Revenue
  • Provides the schedule of assessed values and their descriptions with the resulting levies and taxes to the county official charged with the collection of taxes
  • Accepts applications for Homestead Exemption (a program for property owners over 65 years old, that allows them an exemption of $50,000 of the fair market value of their home)
  • Responsible for the discovery of all personal property subject to the ad valorem tax by the Constitution or general law in order that it may be assessed according to manuals and guidelines of the Department of Revenue
  • Sends tax returns to property owners that may use 6 percent homes as rental properties
  • Administers fees-in-lieu of taxes and joint county industrial parks revenue
  • Processes and calculates refunds and penalties
  • Prepares tax bills
  • Administers all phases of the motor vehicle law and maintains a county tax duplicate for motor vehicles separate from the county tax duplicate, and prepares the tax notice for all motor vehicles (except motor carriers normally trucks in excess of 20,000 pounds) which is then mailed by the Treasurer

Additional Information:

Address Changes:

Residents must provide the Auditor’s office with all address changes made in any county tax office.

Motor Vehicles:

  • The tax date for vehicles begins with the last day of the month in which a license is required and ends on the last day of the month in which the license expires or is due to expire.
  • The owner shall make a property tax return to the auditor before applying for a license when a vehicle is first taxable in a county.
  • The Auditor sends Taxpayers a tax notice in which the Taxpayer has 120 days from the date of purchase to pay the tax. The Auditor receives affidavits from the Department of Motor Vehicles weekly concerning the sales of motor vehicles by the dealers.
  • The Auditor determines the assessed value of motor vehicles by using guides and manuals published by the Department of Revenue. The value of a vehicle may not exceed 95 percent of the prior year’s value.
  • If an owner sells a vehicle, he can request a cancellation of tag at the Auditor’s office. By turning in the tag and registration at the Department of Motor Vehicles and requesting a Form 5051 and taking the form to the Auditor, the Auditor prorates the taxes paid on the vehicle and processes any refund that may be owed to the taxpayer.
  • If an owner moves out of state, and registers the vehicle at the new residence, the owner must deliver the license plate and registration to the Department of Motor Vehicles and requests Form 5051 along with proof of registration in the other state. The Auditor will then order any owed refund.
  • Transferring a motor vehicle license from one vehicle to another does not require the Auditor to levy the tax on the second vehicle until the license plate decal expires, providing that no other transfer had previously taken place. The owner simply pays a transfer fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer the license and taxes.
  • When a nonresident military service person resides in South Carolina, their motor vehicle is not subject to taxation if licensed in South Carolina or the service persons home state. A leased vehicle would not qualify for the tax exemption.

Pleasure and Business Boats:

  • A boat owned by a South Carolina resident is subject to personal property taxes, even if temporarily out of state with the intention of bringing it into the state or which has been sent out of the state for sale and not yet sold.
  • A boat, including its motor, if separately taxed, used in interstate commerce having a tax situs in South Carolina and at least one other state is subject to property tax in this state. The taxes for such a boat must be determined by the fair market value and the number of days present in this state. A boat used in interstate commerce must be physically present for 30 days in the aggregate in order to be taxed.
  • A boat, including its motor if the motor is separately taxed, which is not currently taxed in this state and is not used exclusively in interstate commerce, is subject to property tax in this state if present within this state for 180 days per Georgetown County Ordinance #2008-84. A tax official, in writing, can request logs or other documentation relating to the boat’s whereabouts. Failure to comply creates the presumption that the boat in question is taxable within the State of South Carolina.
  • A boat owner may apply for 4 percent (permanent) or 6 percent (second home) lower tax ratios. Contact the Auditor’s office for applications and eligibility requirements.
  • When a boat, or motor if taxed separately, is subject to a written contract for repairs and located in a marine repair facility in South Carolina for time periods provided are tolled.

Property:

  • The tax date for real and personal property under county jurisdiction, other than motor vehicles, is Dec. 31, of the preceding tax year. Returns are due by April 30.
  • The Auditor sends tax returns to property owners that may use 6 percent homes as rental properties. If used for rental property and reported as income on federal return, a return should be mailed to the Auditor that gives the value of the furnishings in the dwelling. The furnishings are taxable.
  • The Auditor accepts tax returns on personal property not requiring a license or registration with a state agency. Taxable personal property includes property held in trust or charge, i.e., with executors, administrators, with others being liable for the taxes.
  • The Auditor establishes the situs (site) of personal property for taxation. Personal property of businesses generally acquires a situs (site) for taxation where the person or business is located.
  • However, personal property not used in a business is taxed at the residence of the owner
  • Even though its situs (site) may be elsewhere in the state, a leased vehicle, with no business use, usually acquires a tax situs (site) at the place of residence of the lessee.
  • The Auditor shall place on the assessment rolls omitted property that may have escaped taxation.
  • The owner of rehabilitated historic property applies to the Auditor for a special ratio. The county governing body by ordinance grants this special assessment procedure.
  • A motor home with sleeping facilities may qualify as a primary or secondary residence for Federal Income Taxes and thus be eligible for a 4 percent or 6 percent ratio for tax purposes.
  • The SC Department of Revenue notifies the Auditor of all exempt properties in the county. The Department provides a certification of exempt real estate and personal properties to the Auditor.

Programs that provide tax relief for the property owners:

  1. HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION - EXEMPTION FOR THE ELDERLY, DISABLED OR BLIND. The Homestead Exemption covers taxpayers 65 and over or those totally and permanently disabled or legally blind. If you are a resident of this state for at least one calendar year and have reached the age of 65 on or before Dec. 31, of THE PREVIOUS YEAR, or have been classified as totally and permanently disabled, or are legally blind, you are qualified for an exemption of $50,000 of the fair market value of the dwelling place where you claim residency. Make application at the auditor’s office.
  2.  EXEMPTION FOR ALL RESIDENTS – If you qualify for a 4 percent ratio on your residence, you are eligible for property tax relief.
  3. HIGH MILEAGE APPEALS – For vehicle with high mileage, persons may request an appeal before the due date of the tax notice. The vehicle owner must sign a statement certifying the number of miles on the vehicle’s odometer. The Auditor may require a visual check of the odometer to verify mileage.