Property Taxes: Oconee County
Please Note: The analysis below reflects permanent taxes only. Bond issues and other temporary measures can affect total tax liability from year to year.
South Carolina counties, cities and school districts impose ad valorem (property) taxes on real and personal property. Local governments assess and collect property taxes. The market value of a legal residence and up to five acres of surrounding land is assessed at 4 percent. The tax liability on the property is determined when local government applies its millage rate to the assessed value. County millage rates vary, but the state average is 255 mills (.255).
As a legal residence be sure to obtain the 4% assessment rate, otherwise, your tax rate will be 6%. To obtain the lower rate, you will need to complete an application with the county assessor. This should be done as soon as you move into your house, but may be filed anytime before January 15, when taxes are due. Once you file this application, you will not need to complete another one unless ownership changes or use of the property changes. As per state law, all property in South Carolina is to be appraised at 100% of its fair market value and assessed at one of the three mandated ratios. The ratios are as follows:
4% - Legal Residence and Qualified Agricultural
6% - Commercial, Rental, Vacant Land, etc.
10.5% - Industrial, Automobiles, Boats (Personal Property Taxes)
The property tax is determined by multiplying the fair market value by the assessment ratio by the millage rate. For example, the tax on you home is determined in this way:
$600,000 Purchase Price
$500,000 ESTIMATED Fair Market value of home
X 4% Assessed ratio
$ 24,000 Assessed Value
X.287 Millage rate for Oconee County year 2005
$ 6,888 Taxes due (County only)
$ - 695 Sales Tax Credit from State
$ 6,193 ESTIMATED Oconee county taxes
If you live in the city, you must add the city millage to calculate the total taxed due on your home. You may call the Assessor's Office in any County to find out the current millage for the county and each city.
South Carolina provides a $50,000 homestead exemption on the fair market value of a home. Residents qualify for the homestead exemptions that are: age 65 or older; totally and permanently disabled; or legally blind.
COUNTY TAX BREAKDOWN
Individual county millage rates with a breakdown for purpose of levy (e.g., county operating, bonds, sewer, hospital, library, etc.) are added together to produce this total county base millage rate. To this county base are added the other applicable millage rates and fees dependent upon school district and location within the county. This county base is often the allowable industrial abatement for the county.
School district/zone millage rates with details on purpose (e.g., operating, bonds, special schools, etc.) are added together to produce the total millage for each school district. In unincorporated areas, this school district millage and the county base millage are the only applicable property tax millage rates -- unless the area falls within a special purpose district.
CITIES and TOWNS
City and town millage rates vary for each county’s communities. Some municipalities have elected to charge a separate millage rate within the city/town limits to which is added the applicable school district millage and the county base millage.
HOW IS FAIR MARKET VALUE DETERMINED?
To find the value of any piece of property, the assessor must know the price for which properties similar to it are selling, what it would cost today to replace, how much it takes to operate and repair, what rent the property may earn, and other facts affecting its value, such as the current rate of interest charged for borrowing the money to buy or build properties. Along with this information, the assessor will determine the property's value considering three different approaches:
1. Sales Comparison Approach-This method compares property to others that have sold recently. Size, quality, condition, location and the time of sale are important facts that are considered.
2. Cost Approach-A second way to value property is based on how much money it would take, at current material and labor costs to replace the property with one that is similar. If the property is not new, the assessor must also determine how much it has depreciated. Also, the assessor must determine how much the land would be worth if it was vacant.
3. Income Approach-Another way to value property is to evaluate how much income the property would produced if it were rented as an apartment house, a store or other sort of business.
All county assessors receive training in appraisal techniques and must be licensed or certified by the South Carolina Appraisers Board. It is important to remember that the assessor does not create value; only the market place can do that. The principle of supply and demand is the largest single factor in determining a property's worth.