Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the Legal Residence Discount?

A. Obtaining the status of Legal Residence entitles the owner to a discount on the real estate taxes by lowering the assessment ratio from 6% to 4% and removing the school operating portion of the tax bill.

Q. Do I qualify for the Legal Residence Discount?

A. You qualify for the discount if you own an interest in the real property which you are occupying. The interest may be owned totally or in part, in fee or by life estate. The owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as his/her legal residence and been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year.

Q. How do I apply?

A. You must apply in person in the Assessor's office. A valid drivers license with photograph and a copy of vehicle registrations for all vehicles owned is required. The burden of proof for eligibility for the four percent assessment ratio is on the owner-occupant. The Assessor may request additional information including but not limited to: a copy of the owner-occupants most recently filed South Carolina individual income tax return, utility statements, marriage certificate, voters registration, legal separation agreement and utility statements.

Q. Will my spouse have to sign the form also?

A. If married only one spouse is required to personally appear, however, they must bring the required information such as a copy of the South Carolina Drivers License or I.D. Card and all vehicle registrations for the other spouse.

Q. My spouse has not changed his/her Drivers License and I am the only owner listed on the deed or title of record. Can I apply without my spouses' information?

A. No. On the application you are attesting "neither I nor any other member of my household is residing in or occupying any other residence in South Carolina which I or any member of my immediate family has qualified for the special assessment ratio allowed by this section." It is your responsibility to prove residency for both you and your spouse. For the purpose of this section " a member of my household" means the owner-occupant's spouse, except when that spouse is legally separated from the owner-occupant and any child of the owner-occupant claimed or eligible to be claimed as a dependent on the owner-occupant's federal income tax return.

Q. I do not own a vehicle. Is that a problem?

A. If you do not own a vehicle we will require additional proof other than the state identification card. You should bring with you at least two utility bills in your name at the correct address showing when service was turned on. These must be power, water or gas,. Phone, satellite or cable bills are not accepted. A copy of your most recent South Carolina Income Tax Return may also be required.

Q. The only vehicle I drive is a company vehicle that is registered in another state. Will that be accepted?

A. If the vehicle is driven home daily and is used for any personal use it must be registered at the address where it is domiciled. If you own a personal vehicle and the company vehicle is used strictly for business use, a notarized letter from the company stating the vehicle is used only for business and the use of the vehicle for personal use is prohibited will be accepted, otherwise, it also must be registered at that address.

Q. What is the Homestead Exemption?

A. Homestead Exemption is applied for in the Auditor's office and is a state exemption that is available to owner-occupants over 65 or disabled. For information on the requirements to qualify for this exemption please contact the Auditors Office.

Q. Our Property is owned by a trust. Do we still qualify for the Legal Residence discount?

A. If the property is held in a trust, you must provide a copy of the trust to the Assessor. The trust must state that the occupant is the income beneficiary of the trust.

Q. Can property owned by LLC's or Corporations qualify of the Legal Residence Discount?

A. No, under state law the Discount can not be granted on property owned by an LLC or Corporation.

Q. How do I get the best tax rate for my home?

A. If you own a residence, you want to be sure to obtain the 4% assessment ratio if you live in the residence as your primary place of residency. All properties that are not owner-occupied will be assessed at a 6% assessment ratio. To obtain the 4% assessment rate, you or your agent will need to complete a legal residence application and file with the county assessor. This should be done as soon as your deed or bond-for-title is recorded and you move into your home, but may be filed anytime before the first penalty date, when taxes are due (January 15). If a person signs the legal residence certification, obtains the 4% assessment rate, and is thereafter found not eligible, or loses eligibility and fails to notify the assessor within six months, a penalty is imposed equal to one hundred percent of the tax paid, plus interest on that amount at the rate of one-half of one percent a month, but in no case less than $30 nor more than the current year's taxes.

Q. I agree with the appraised value, but I'm afraid my taxes will go up accordingly. Should I appeal my value because I feel my taxes will increase?

A. NO! Mill levies are set each year by taxing authorities. The mill levy determines amounts of each tax bill that goes to schools, fire districts, water and sanitation districts, governmental agencies, and other special districts.

© 2010 by The Clarendon County Board of Tax Assessors &