Did you know that when you buy a home in Charleston County, your taxes are automatically assessed at 6%? This is a proactive approach by the county to ensure that secondary property owners and investors are paying a higher tax rate than primary residents. While it makes sense, it puts the responsibility on the homeowner to claim their property as a primary residence.
If you purchased a home in Mount Pleasant, or anywhere in the Charleston area in 2017, this is very important! Having a primary residence is a huge tax savings. While the taxes are listed at 6% for secondary and 4% for primary, the difference in your tax bill may actually be triple if you do not apply for the 4% exemption.
Tax bills start to come out in October, and are due in January. So here is what you have to do…Once you have moved in and set up your utilities and general "house keeping," make copies of the following:
1. SC drivers license for owner AND spouse
2. Voter registration for owner AND spouse
3. Vehicle registration with updated address
4. First 2 pages of tax return
5. Application for Legal Residence from Charleston County
The full list of everything required is on that application. Print all needed documents, and take an afternoon to go to the Assessor's office. It is currently located downtown at 101 Meeting St, but will be moving locations this Fall, so call 843-958-4144 to check the current location.
If you forget to apply for the tax break, you can apply for a refund next year, but more documents are required (State returns, proof of utilities, etc.) and if your taxes are paid through escrow, you may have an escrow shortage and dealing with your bank to cover the shortage can be an additional headache.
It's Charleston, so everyone at the Assessor's office is friendly and happy to help if you have any questions!