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Assessor's Office

County Administration Building
Room 221
57 Wall Street
Barnwell, South Carolina 29812
Area Code 803
541-1011
 
Mailing Address: 57 Wall Street, Barnwell, South Carolina 29812
 
Normal Office Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Monday-Friday, excluding holidays.


History

The property tax was created in South Carolina in 1915 and until the late 1920s was the major source for state and local revenue. Today, property tax represents about 20 percent of all state and local taxes. It continues to be a main source of revenue for our public schools.

Why Do We Pay Property Tax?

Property tax is collected by local governments to provide for the many services most of us take for granted. Schools, police and fire protection, trash disposal, medical services, arts and youth recreation are all possible because of revenue from the property tax.

How a Tax Bill is Calculated

The property tax is determined by multiplying the fair market value by the assessment ratio by the millage rate. For example, the tax on your home is determined in this way:

$120,000   Fair market value

x 6%   Assessment ratio

= 7,200   Assessed value

x .415  Millage rate (415 mills)

= $2,988  Taxes due

The roll of the County Assessor

The Barnwell County Assessor's Office was created in 1976. The primary function of the County Assessor is to report to the County auditor the Fair Market Value and Assessed Value of all Real Estate not appraised by the Department of Revenue. The Assessor does not create value. People make value by their transactions in the market place. The Assessor simply has the legal responsibility to interpret these transactions and appraise your property accordingly. Another vital function of the Assessor's Office is to conduct property value reassessments every five years.

Why Reassessment and Fair Market Value is so Important?

Once the Assessor assigns a value to your property the value from which your tax bill is calculated may not change for as long as five years. The actual market value of property will continue to evolve but not necessarily at the same rate. Over time the difference in the assessor's appraised value and the actual market value become so large that inequities occur that result in some being asked to pay more of their fair share and others less. In an effort to balance these inequalities, the assessor conducts county wide reassessments every five years. During this time, the assessor reappraises all real estate in light of the present day fair market value. Fair taxation is not possible unless correct appraisals of property are made in light of present value, not what it may have been worth in past years. This is the most important function of a continuing assessment system.

How Does the Assessor Determine the Fair Market Value?

Much like a private fee appraiser for estates, banks, and other financial institutions, the assessor and staff appraisers are licensed and certified by the State of South Carolina to perform appraisal work. Consistent with state standards, the assessor may employ one or more of the following approaches to value your property.

Sales Approach By Comparison

This method compares property to others which have sold recently. These prices are analyzed to determine if the sales were accurate. One property may have sold for more than it is really worth because the buyer was in a hurry and was willing to pay any price. Another may have sold for less money than it was actually worth because the owner needed cash quickly.

When using the sales comparison approach, the assessor analyzes many sales to arrive at a fair valuation of your property. Size, quality, condition, location and time of sale are important facts which are considered. The sales comparison approach usually is the most reliable way of determining value of residential property.

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.

Income Approach

Another way to value property is to evaluate how much income the property would produce if it were rented as an apartment house, a store or other sort of business. The assessor considers what rent a property may earn, vacancy rates, operating expenses, maintenance costs, and the current interest rate charged for borrowing money.

© 2010 by The Barnwell County Board of Tax Assessors & qpublic.net