Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I change my Mailing Address?

A: The Assessor's Office only maintains mailing address for real property and mobile homes. It is the responsibility of the property owner to notify the Assessor's Office of any change in mailing address. A request for a change of mailing address can be done in our office if you are a single owner and provide proof of identity or by mailing a written request to our office. If a property has multiple owners or is owned by a corporation then the request must be in writing and can be sent by mail or delivered in person to our office.

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 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 and remain in that status at the time of filing the application. A residence maintained principally for vacation or recreational purposes does not qualify.

Q: Can I claim more than one legal residence?

A: No, according to state law you nor any other member of your household is eligible to claim another legal residence.

Q: How do I apply for the Legal Residence Discount?

A: You must make application in the Assessor's office. A valid state identification with photograph is required. The burden of proof for eligibility is on the owner-occupant. The Assessor may request additional information including but not limited to: a copy of the owner-occupants most recent filed South Carolina individual income tax return, utility statements, marriage certificate, voter registration, legal separation agreement, bank statement, paycheck stub, retirement check, ect.

Q: What is the Agricultural Use Discount?

A: Obtaining Agricultural Use Discount refers to the special discounted appraised value assigned to those acreage tracts of land that qualified based on bona fide agricultural use of the property.
Agricultural real property shall mean any tract of real property which is used to raise, harvest or store crops or feed, breed or manage livestock, or to produce plants, trees, fowl, or animals useful to man, including the preparation of the products raised thereon for man's use and disposed of by marketing or other means. It includes but is not limited to such real property used for agriculture, grazing, horticulture, forestry, dairying, and mariculture.

Q: When and how to file for Agricultural Use Value?

A: By law property owners may file for Agricultural Use Value up until the first penalty date within the tax year for which the request for special assessment is claimed; however, administratively it is beneficial if the application is made as early in the year as possible. Applications may be filed in our office or sent by mail.

Q: When do Roll-Back Taxes apply to Agricultural Use?

A: When real property which is in agricultural use and is being valued, assessed, and taxed is applied to another use other than agricultural, it shall be subject to additional taxes, referred to as roll-back taxes, in the amount equal to the difference, if any, between the taxes payable on the basis of the agricultural use valuation and assessment, and the taxes that would have been paid had the property been taxed at the market value appraisal and 6% assessment ratio. The roll-back can be applied to the property for the current tax year (the year of change in use) and each of the five tax years immediately proceeding the year of change in use.

Q: How do I Appeal?

A: All appeals must be in writing directly to the Assessor's Office. Appeals may be mailed in or hand delivered to our Office. When considering appeals the Assessor's Office can only consider three things: Property Value (Actual fair market value), Property Classification (Legal Residence, Agricultural Use Value, Regular, etc.), and in equitability (Not assessed constant with similar properties in accordance to the Law). The Assessor's Office cannot address issues dealing with the dollar amount of your taxes. Failure to appeal within the allotted time constitutes a waver in your right to appeal for the year.

Q: Appeal Deadline - in a year of a Reassessment:

A: In years when there's an implementation of a reassessment program all property owners of record will be mailed an assessment notice. Each property owner has the right to appeal up to 90 days after the date of the notice. Failure to respond within 90 days will forfeit your right to appeal for the year of implementation.

Q: Appeal Deadline - in a Non-Reassessment year when No Notice of Assessment has been mailed:

A: In a non-reassessment year when no notice of assessment has been mailed each property owner has the right to appeal any time during the year up until the first penalty date for the tax year for which the appeal is being claimed; however, for administrative purposes the earlier in the year the appeal is filed the better, preferably before March 1st.

Q: What to include in my Appeal?

A: Please include the following in your appeal request: personal contact information, tax map number, actual physical property location, detailed reason for the appeal, what you believe your property to be worth and how you arrived at that figure. This will help us in reviewing your property.

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.

Q: I am not sure my vacant lot is buildable since a septic tank is required. What is the basis for receiving a lower assessment from the Assessor?

A: The property owner must present sufficient and credible evidence to establish that the lot is not buildable. The Assessor will accept an official finding from DHEC (Dept. of Health and Environmental Control) since this is the State agency authorized to and charged with the responsibility to promulgate regulations relating to septic tank systems.

Q: I did my own construction work to save money, but the county appraised value increased more than my actual cost. Should my assessment reflect the actual cost?

A: Your construction cost may or may not reflect the current market value of your property. It is only one element that is considered. Assessments are based on fair market value. Whether you did the work yourself or hired a contractor. Most residential improvements are based on what is known as contributory value. This contributory value is not based on cost, but rather the added value it "contributes" to the overall worth of the property. The Assessor must provide an opinion of market value.

Q: How is the valuation of my property determined?

A: The County Assessor maintains information on each property located in the County such as: size, square footage, and location. An appraiser from the Assessor's Office visits the property and measures the structures to determine square footage. The appraiser also notes other information, such as age, type of construction, type of heating and air conditioning, number of stories, and whether the structure has a garage, deck, swimming pool, ect. Copies of building permits provide additional information on the property. The appraiser considers this information along with selling prices of similar properties in the area, how much it would cost to replace the property at current costs, and the general physical condition of the property. With all of this information Mass Appraisal techniques are applied and the appraiser then estimates the value on your property. For rental or commercial property, an evaluation may also be made on how much income the property produces, what the operating expenses are, and what kind of investment return can be reasonably expected.

Q: What is a mass appraisal?

A: Even though some of the thought process and terminology is similar, mass appraisal practices are different. A mass appraisal is the systematic appraisal of a universe of properties as of a given date. In mass appraisal the focus is not on the individual property. The quality of a mass appraisal is determined by its use of standard methodology, the employment of common data, and the overall subjection to statistical testing.

Q: Why reassess?

A: The market value of property will continue to change. Unfortunately, property values do not all change at the same rate; some increase or decrease at a faster rate due to location, desirability of the neighborhood or property, age and physical condition, etc. The key word in the reassessment program is accuracy. Taxes cannot be levied fairly unless the true value of each property is known. Correct assessments are not possible unless correct appraisals of property are made in light of present value, not what it was worth in past years. This is the most important function of a continuing assessment equalization system.

Q: Will my taxes increase because of Reassessment?

A: Some property will notice a decrease in taxes, some will stay the same and some will pay more taxes. Reassessment is not created to raise taxes; it is intended to distribute the taxes collected more fairly among all property owners. Because of the five-year lapse since the last reassessment, property values are likely to increase. Unless a property is badly in need of repair or a downward turn in the market, it is unusual for property values to go down. Because of the increase in values during reassessment, state law requires that local government reduce the millage rate (i.e. tax rate or levy) to what is called a "rollback millage."

Q: Who determines the amount of taxes I pay?

A: While the County Assessor determines the value of the property for the base of the taxation equation, the Assessor's office does not determine the amount of taxes you pay. Local taxing authorities (County, City, School District, Water and Sanitation Districts, etc,) decide how much money is required to provide services and establish a millage rate. Taxes can increase or decrease depending on the millage rate. The County Assessor is involved in the equalization of taxation based on property values or the first phase as described below or the:

Taxable Portion of the Appraised value x Assessment Ratio = Assessed Value

Assessed Value x Millage Rate = Tax Bill

© 2010 by The Lee County Assessor &