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Its Tax Time: What You Need to Know

Brad Allen

The ART of Real Estate was founded with one question: What if buying and selling real estate could be a great experience? I've been asking myself that...

The ART of Real Estate was founded with one question: What if buying and selling real estate could be a great experience? I've been asking myself that...

Jan 24 11 minutes read

Well, it’s that time of year again where your property tax assessments are being issued by your county assessor’s office. There are several things we want you to know about these assessments:

How Do They Even Calculate My Taxes? Here is a great packet of information that explains the following:

  • How much the county can assess?
  • How often they can assess?
  • How to read your tax bill.
  • How to calculate your tax assessment.

I Escrow My Taxes, Now What? –  Most homeowners escrow their tax payment on a per month basis with their lender. If this is the case for you, don’t worry. The county will still send you a statement outlining the amount, but it should say “This is Not a Bill” or something to that effect.  Your mortgage company will also get a copy, giving them the correct information to pay the bill.

I Don’t Escrow My Taxes, When Are They Due? – The tax bills are mailed out sometime in late October or early November. If they are paid…

  • By January 15th there is no penalty.
  • By February 1st, there will be a 3% penalty.
  • By March 16th – there will be an additional 7% penalty
  • After March 16th – there will be an additional 5% penalty.

My Bill Has the Previous Owner’s Name –  If you bought a house this year, it is possible that the tax assessor’s office may have sent the bill/statement with the previous owner’s name on it. Don’t worry, even if the name is messed up, it’s still your bill.

My Assessment Seems Abnormally High – If you see the amount the county thinks your home is worth and your initial reaction is, “If you think my house is worth that much, I am selling now” or “Heck, they can come buy it for that”, then you can contest the assessment. The county uses a confusing algorithm to assess your home, and there are different rates for different areas of town. For this example, we will use Richland County, but every county has a way for you to contest the assessment, it just may vary. Here is how it works per South Carolina Law…

Here’s the Quick and Easy Version of The Process (see below for the actual law)

Under the provision of state law, the property owner may reasonably challenge his appraisal/ assessment using the following procedure. (South Carolina Department of Revenue 12-60-2520 as amended).

  1. Within ninety (90) days after dated notice of reassessment, the property owner or his agent must file a written objection with the assessor.
  1. The assessor will conduct a field review and notify the property owner of the results of review.
  1. Within thirty (30) days of further objection, a conference will be scheduled. The assessor, in turn, will request that you provide, within thirty (30) days, additional data to help determine the value of your property.
  1. After the field review has been completed, the Assessor will notify you in writing of his finding. If you still disagree with the assessment, you have thirty (30) days to file written notice of your request to appeal your assessment to the Richland County Board of Assessment Appeals, a member panel of Richland County citizens who shall serve as the final local authority in such appeals.
  1. An appeal submitted before the first penalty date (January 15th) applies for the property tax year for which that penalty would apply. An appeal submitted on or after the first penalty applies for the succeeding property tax year.

Here is the actual Law –

Please note the following was taken from Richland County Assessor’s Office, Your Guide to the 2014 Reassessment Program.

“SECTION 12-60-2520 of the SC Code of Law allows for a property owner to object to a property tax assessment made by a county assessor and this appeal is required to be in writing. The letter of appeal should be addressed to the Richland County Assessor, John Cloyd and can be as simple as I disagree with the valuation and/or assessment for (Tax Year) and would like to appeal it for (Tax Year). The appellant would want to include their: name, current mailing address and a daytime telephone number.

Once the appeal is received by our office, it will be logged in and the property will receive an appointment letter indicating an appointment date and time to meet with the appraiser of their neighborhood. The appointment letter will include the appraiser’s name and telephone number should the appellant need to talk with the appraiser before the meeting. At the meeting the property owner will be provided an “appeal form” (see what’s involved with the form below.)that will be required to be completed and returned to the appraiser within 30 days of the meeting. The form will also assist the appellant in making sure that pertinent information is provided to the Assessor’s office. to meet with the assessor within the time limits provided in Section 12-60-2510. This written request is a notice of objection for purposes of this subarticle.

(B) If, upon examination of the property taxpayer’s written objection, the county assessor agrees with the taxpayer, the county assessor must correct the error. If, upon the examination, the county assessor does not agree with the taxpayer, the assessor shall schedule a conference with the property taxpayer within thirty days of the date of the request for a meeting or as soon after that as practical. If the matter is not resolved at the conference, the assessor shall advise the property taxpayer of the right to protest and provide the taxpayer a form on which to file the protest. The property taxpayer has thirty days after the date of the conference to file a written protest with the assessor. The protest must contain:

(1) the name, address, and telephone number of the property taxpayer;

(2) a description of the property in issue;

(3) a statement of facts supporting the taxpayer’s position;

(4) a statement outlining the reasons for the appeal, including any law or other authority, upon which the taxpayer relies; and

(5) the value and classification which the property taxpayer considers the fair market value, special use value, if applicable, and the proper classification. The taxpayer may use the form prepared by the department, but use of the form is not mandatory.

(C) The assessor shall respond to the written protest and the response must:

(1) be in writing;

(2) be mailed to the property taxpayer by first class mail within thirty days of the date of receipt of the property taxpayer’s protest or as soon thereafter as practical;

(3) include a statement of the initial property tax assessment and the redetermined property tax assessment;

(4) state that the redetermined property tax assessment will become final if the property taxpayer does not appeal the property tax assessment to the county board of assessment appeals; and

(5) inform the taxpayer of procedures for all further appeals.

(D) The assessor may amend, modify, or rescind any property tax assessment, except claims relating to property tax exemptions.

(E) Each protest and each response must be filed and maintained at the office of the assessor for four years, and must be made available for examination and copying by any property taxpayer, at the taxpayer’s expense pursuant to Chapter 4 of Title 30, the Freedom of Information Under the provision of state law, the property owner may reasonably challenge his appraisal/assessment using the following procedure. (South Carolina Department of Revenue 12-60-2520 as amended). “

Here’s the Appeal Form

Step one Click here to be taken to the State of South Carolina Department of Revenue’s, Appeal for Real Property Assessment County Assessor form. You can write a letter instead of filling out this form; however, you will need to answer all of the questions on the form in your letter. If you decide to fill out the form, you will need to fill it out in it’s entirety. The overview of the form is broken down like this…

  1. Section One : Taxpayer and Property Info
  2. Section Two : Documents to be Attached. This is where you need to include your tax notice, comps or appraisals to prove your case.
  3. Section Three :  Reason for Protest. There are three reason why you are allowed to protest the assessment: 1) Value of the Property, 2) Classification of the Property, 3) Other
  4. Section Four: Information and Support for Protest. This is where they want you to use the information on the documents you attached to prove your protest. Almost like they want you to summarize the issue for them.

I Need Comps For My Assessment Protest –  We are more than happy to provide clients and customers with comparable homes for their protest. Feel free to reach out to our office at 803.760.9106 and ask for an agent to help you with your tax assessment. We do ask that you give us a little bit of time to complete the comps and return them to you. But again, you don’t have to be a client.

I Have A Crazy High Tax Amount, but My Tax Assessment Looks Right –  This situation might occur if you didn’t apply for your 4% legal residence assessment. When you purchase a piece of residential property in South Carolina, the State automatically assumes it is an investment property, and sets your tax rate to 6%, not 4%. That 2% isn’t nominal; it’s 3x the actual amount owed. At this point, you need to contact the assessor’s office and see what you need to do get that rate lowered. The most likely place to start is with this form, Application for Special Assessment of Legal ResidenceThe assessor will most likely want to see your driver’s license with the address of the house for which you are claiming legal residence. If you are already a South Carolina resident with a South Carolina Drivers License, then you most likely can fill out this form on the South Carolina DMV website and order a new license quickly. If you are not a South Carolina Resident, then you will need to visit one of our local DMV offices to obtain a new license.

Property taxes are one of those things that no one likes to pay, but the revenue obtained from those taxes pay for many of our emergency management services and local infrastructure, making them a necessary evil in the eyes of most. If there is anything we can do to help answer your questions, please feel free to reach out to us at 803-760-9106 or email at [email protected].

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