SC Department of Revenue
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Exempt Property FAQs

 

Facts to be Considered to Qualify for the Exemption                                          

The Exempt Property Section of the Department of Revenue determines if any property (real or personal) qualifies for exemption from local property taxes under S. C. Code Section 12-37-220 in accordance with the Constitution and general laws of this State.  This determination must be made on an annual basis and the appropriate county official be advised by the Exempt Property Section of the Department of Revenue each year.  Section 12-37-220 provides for all exemptions.  Exemptions are strictly construed in South Carolina.  When determining if the individual/organization qualifies for an exemption, all criteria must be met.  If the organization has been granted exemption from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, it does not provide an automatic exemption from property taxes for the organization in South Carolina as they must fall within the guidelines set forth by law.  

The controlling date for property taxes is December 31st of the year preceding the tax year.  There are two Supreme Court Rulings that state the legal status of the property is December 31st of the year prior to the tax year.  The Supreme Court cases are Myrtle Beach v. Holliday, 203 S. C. 25,26 S. E. 2d and Atkinson Dredging Co. v. Thomas, 206 S. C. 361, 223 S. E. 2d 592.

 

When determining if an individual/organization qualifies for an exemption on real property, there are two criteria that must be met.  We must verify that the property is owned as of December 31st of the previous year and we must verify the effective date of disability of the individual requesting the exemption is also as of December 31st of the previous year in order to qualify for the exemption.

 

S. C. Code Section 12-37-250 provides for the homestead exemption for taxpayers sixty-five and over or those totally and permanently disabled or legally blind.  This exemption allows for the first fifty thousand dollars of the fair market value of the dwelling place of a person to qualify for an exemption from county, municipal, school, and special assessment real estate property taxes when certain criteria have been met.  This exemption is not handled at the South Carolina Department of Revenue.  You must apply for the homestead exemption at the County Auditor’s Office where you are receiving 4% legal residence. 

 

Exempt Property FAQ's

Where can I find an application for exemption (PT-401)?

On our website www.sctax.org under Quick Links click Forms & Instructions and then click Property.

 

Where are all the applicable codes for an exemption?

The exemption laws can be found in SC Code of Laws in Title 12, Chapter 37, Section 220.

 

How long does it take to process an application for exemption?

Processing of applications may take six to eight weeks or more.

 

Do I need to file a subsequent application every year after my exemption has been granted?

Unless there is a change in the property reported on the initial application or unless requesting an exemption for property not included on prior applications.

 

I have purchased a new vehicle. How do I drop my old vehicle and add my new vehicle?

Complete the PT-401 and submit a copy of the Registration Card, Bill of Sale, or Title to the new vehicle and indicate which vehicle you no longer want for an exemption.

 

What is a 4% Legal Residence document and where can I obtain one?

Legal Residence refers to the special 4% assessment ratio for owner occupied homes. You can obtain this document from your county assessor’s office.

 

Is there a property tax exemption for real property owned by a veteran, police officer or firefighter with a service connected disability?

Exemption applies to the home and one lot not to exceed one acre of land for the following:

  • A veteran of the armed forces of the United States who is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service connected disability and who files with the Department of Revenue a certificate signed by the county service officer or Veterans Administration certifying the disability.
  • A former law enforcement officer as defined in Section 23-23-10(E)(1), who is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a law enforcement service connected disability.  The law enforcement officer must have been an appointed officer or employee hired by and regularly on the payroll of this STATE or any of its political subdivisions.
  • A former firefighter, including a volunteer firefighter as further defined in Chapter 80 of Title 40 who is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a firefighting service connected disability.  Firefighter must have been in this STATE when they became permanently and totally disabled as a result of a firefighting service connected disability.  
  • The real property must be owned by the eligible owner in fee or jointly with a spouse.
  • The real property must be the eligible owner’s legal residence as defined in SC Code Section 12-43-220(c).
  • The surviving spouse is also entitled to the exemption from property taxes if the spouse remains unmarried, resides in the dwelling and acquires the ownership in the property in fee or for life.  The surviving spouse must reapply for the exemption and provide necessary documentation in order to determine if the exemption qualifies.  Qualified surviving spouse also means the surviving spouse of a law enforcement officer or firefighter who dies in the line of duty and who at the time of death owned the dwelling in fee or jointly with the now surviving spouse.

Property that is transferred to a trust may also be eligible when the trustee holds legal title to the dwelling for the beneficiary and the beneficiary is the person who qualified for the exemption and the beneficiary uses the dwelling as the beneficiary’s legal residence.

 

I am a surviving spouse of a disabled veteran. How do I file for an exemption from property taxes?

If at the time of death the veteran owned the house in fee or for life, or jointly with the now surviving spouse, if the surviving spouse remains unmarried, resides in the house, and has acquired ownership of the house in fee or for life. The surviving spouse should complete the PT-401 Application for Exemption and submit the following documents: a copy of Death Certificate, VA letter certifying you are the surviving spouse and copy of the recorded Deed of Distribution or the complete Will.

 

I am a veteran of the armed forces of the United States who is permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service connected disability.  Would I qualify for an exemption from property taxes on my home?

The veteran must own the property in fee or jointly with a spouse.  It must be the veteran’s legal residence and the veteran must provide a statement from the county service officer or Veterans Administration certifying the disability is totally and permanently service connected.  If all this criteria has been met, the veteran would qualify for the exemption.

 

My husband was a totally and permanently service connected veteran.  However, he did not own a house in this state.  Would I qualify for the exemption as the surviving spouse since I now reside in South Carolina?

If the veteran never owned a house in this state, the surviving spouse would not qualify for the exemption from property taxes.

 

Surviving spouse acquires the property in fee, the surviving spouse transfers the property in a life estate with the remainder going to her children.  Would she be entitled to the exemption?

Yes, the surviving spouse would be entitled to the exemption.  If the property is in a life estate, the surviving spouse may live in the home for her life.  At her death, the property will transfer to the children.

 

A veteran or law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty (serviceman) owned the property solely and died with no will. The property transferred to the surviving spouse and children.  The children deeded their interest to the surviving spouse solely. Would the surviving spouse qualify to receive the exemption?

Yes, she would qualify for the exemption.

 

Would a totally and permanently service connected veteran buying a house under contract qualify for a property tax exemption?

If the veteran obtains a vested interest and satisfies the requirements of S. C. Code Section 12-37-220 (B)(1)(a).

 

I am 100% disabled through Social Security.  Do I qualify for an exemption from property taxes?

There are no provisions for an exemption for 100% disabled persons through Social Security under S. C. Code Section 12-37-220.

 

Do governmental agencies have to file an application for exemption?

No application has to be filed with the Department of Revenue, but the County Assessor and Department of Revenue have to decide if the property is used for a general public purpose.  If so, the County Assessor removes the property from the tax rolls of the county.

 

Does property that transfers to a governmental agency and used for a general public purpose qualify for an exemption in the year of acquisition?

Yes, it does qualify if the property is transferred before the Auditor makes up the books in September.  This is based on an Attorney General’s Opinion.

 

If a church owns a parcel of property that is not contiguous to the actual church and an income producing venture is located on the property would the property qualify for an exemption from property taxes?

The church owns a house which is being rented; the property would not qualify for an exemption from property taxes.

 

Is real or personal property owned by a Homeowner’s Association qualify for a property tax exemption as a non-profit corporation?

There is no provision under S. C. Code Section 12-37-220 to exempt these associations.  Benefit inure to the individuals.  There is a provision for a special assessment under S. C. Code Section 12-43-227.  The special assessment is handled by the county assessor’s office.

 

What are rollback taxes?

Real property which is in agricultural use and is being valued, assessed, and taxed as such is applied to a use other than agricultural, it is subject to additional taxes, which is referred to as “rollback taxes.”  Rollback taxes are equal to the difference, if any, between the taxes paid or payable on the basis of the valuation and the assessment as agricultural property and the taxes that would have been paid or payable had the real property been valued, assessed and taxed as other real property in the taxing district, in the current tax year (the year of change in the use) and each of the five tax years immediately preceding in which the real property was valued, assessed, and taxed as agricultural property.

 

What property is not subject to rollback taxes?

Agricultural land acquired by a church and used as a cemetery are not subject to rollback taxes because Article X, Section 3(c) of the South Carolina Constitution and SC Code Section 12-37-220 (A)(3) which exempts all property of libraries, churches, parsonages, and burying grounds from property taxation.  Attorney General Opinion No. 86-69 (July 24, 1985).

 

Any economic development property which becomes exempt under Section 12-37-220 (B).

 

Any property which becomes exempt from property taxes under Section 12-37-220 (A)(1).  (property of the State, counties, municipalities, school districts, Water and Sewer Authorities and other political subdivisions, if the property is used exclusively for public purposes.)

 

I have a handicap placard from the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Do I qualify for a tax exemption?

The applicant would need to provide a copy of physician statement on the physician’s letterhead certifying the required use of a wheelchair on a permanent basis with the effective date. Wheelchair use must be on a permanent basis and not for a temporary period of time. A note on a prescription pad does not meet requirements of 12-37-220.

 

I am the parent of a handicapped child. Do I qualify for an exemption?

Exemption is for one personal motor vehicle owned or leased by a legal guardian or minor child who is blind or required to use a wheelchair. The vehicle must be used to transport the minor child. Vehicles in the name of the step parent do not qualify for exemption. Foster parents do not meet requirements of law. An Application for Exemption (PT-401) is required. Parent must provide a copy of the birth certificate showing the parents name. Legal guardian must provide court documentation of legal guardianship and a copy of the birth certificate. Must provide a physician statement certifying minor child is blind or requires the use of wheelchair. Minor child is defined as a child under the age of 18. The vehicle has to be registered in the name of the parents or guardians.

  

I am a paraplegic or hemiplegic individual. Do I qualify for an exemption from property taxes?

There is an exemption for a paraplegic or hemiplegic person who owns the house in fee or for life or jointly with a spouse on a lot not to exceed one acre of land owned by the paraplegic or hemiplegic person.  The applicant must provide a physician’s statement certifying the individual is a paraplegic or hemiplegic with the effective date.  The exemption is allowed to the surviving spouse of the person so long as the spouse does not remarry, resides in the dwelling and obtains the property in fee or for life. 

 

Property that is transferred to a trust may also be eligible when the trustee holds legal title to the dwelling for the beneficiary and the beneficiary is the person who qualified for the exemption and the beneficiary uses the dwelling as the beneficiary’s legal residence.

 

Does a person with Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, with the same ambulatory difficulties as a person with paraparesis or hemiparesis qualify for the exemption from property taxes?

For the purposes of this exemption, if the disease has caused the person to become a paraplegic or hemiplegic person and the applicant provides a physician’s statement on the physician’s letterhead reflecting the effective date they were classified as a paraplegic or hemiplegic person, they would be entitled to the exemption as long as all criteria have been met.  Beginning with tax year 2010, the exemption is allowed to the surviving spouse of a person so long as the spouse does not remarry, resides in the dwelling and obtains the property in fee or for life.

 

Property that is transferred to a trust may also be eligible when the trustee holds legal title to the dwelling for the beneficiary and the beneficiary is the person who qualified for the exemption and the beneficiary uses the dwelling as the beneficiary’s legal residence.

 

I am a disabled veteran, do I qualify for a vehicle exemption?

Exemption applies to two private passenger vehicles owned or leased by a disabled veteran who has qualified for the special license tags under the Department of Motor Vehicles.  In lieu of the license, the veteran must provide a certificate signed by the county service officer or the Veteran’s Administration of the total and permanent disability with the effective date.  (VA Rating Decision Letters do not qualify).  Vehicle must be registered in the veteran’s name solely or jointly with a spouse.  Applicant is required to provide necessary documentation to determine if they qualify for the exemption.  This exemption does not extend to the surviving spouse

 

Does a vehicle of a recipient of the Medal of Honor qualify for an exemption from property taxes?

Exemption is allowed for two private passenger vehicles owned or leased by a recipient of the Medal of Honor.  This exemption does not extend to the surviving spouse.

 

Does a vehicle of a person who requires the use of a wheelchair qualify for an exemption from property taxes?

Exemption is allowed for two personal motor vehicles owned or leased either solely or jointly by persons required to use wheelchairs.  The applicant is required to file the Application for Exemption and supporting documents.  The applicant must provide a physician’s statement certifying the required use of a wheelchair on a permanent basis and not for a temporary period of time.  The physician statement must include the effective date of the wheelchair use.  This exemption does not extend to the surviving spouse.

 

I am a Prisoner of War; do I qualify for an exemption from property taxes on my vehicles?

Exemption is allowed for two private passenger vehicles or trucks, not exceeding three-quarter ton, owned or leased by and licensed and registered in the name of any member or former member of the armed forces who was a prisoner of war in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, or the Vietnam Conflict.  They must be a legal resident of this State and the exemption also extends to the surviving spouse of the qualified former POW for the lifetime or until the remarriage of the surviving spouse.

 

Will the residence of a POW or Medal of Honor recipient qualify for any exemption from property taxes?

A recipient of the Medal of Honor or person who was a POW from World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict or the Vietnam Conflict does qualify for the exemption on the dwelling home and lot not to exceed one acre of land.  Applicant must be a resident of South Carolina and own property in fee or for life or jointly with a spouse.  The surviving spouse is entitled to exemption so long as he/she obtains by devise the fee or a life estate in the dwelling and does not remarry.  Surviving spouse can obtain exemption for subsequently acquiring dwelling.  Applicant must provide necessary documentation in order for the Department of Revenue to determine eligibility of the exemption.

 

What exemption do I qualify for as an active member of the Armed Forces?

A private passenger motor vehicle leased by a member of the armed forces of the United States, stationed in South Carolina, and their home of record must be another state. The vehicle must be registered and licensed in SC. The service member must provide documentation to the county auditor as to his home of record.

 

Back to Top

 

Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act

 

This exemption is handled at the Auditor’s Office in the County which you reside.

 

The Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act of 1939 (50 U.S.C.A.574) and the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act a signed by President Obama on November 11, 2009 provides for the following:

           

·       The personal property owned by a serviceperson or their spouse is not taxable in South Carolina if they have claimed another state as their state of residence or domicile per their Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).  Personal property includes; but, is not limited to motor vehicles, boats, campers, travel trailers, motorcycles, mobile homes and any other type personal property.

 

·       The serviceperson must provide proof of orders.  (Orders do not have to be to South Carolina).

 

·       The personal property must be owned by the serviceperson or their spouse and they are living together.

 

·       Personal property used in or arising from a trade of business is NOT exempt.

 

·       If the serviceperson claims South Carolina as their state of residence or domicile, all personal property is taxable in this state.

 

·       The only state that has a right to tax personal property of a serviceperson or the spouse of the serviceperson is their home state.  (State of residence or domicile as claimed on LES)

Back to Top



 
The S.C. Department of Revenue strives to make our website broadly accessible and is continuously working on improvements.
If you have problems accessing this website or suggestions on how to improve the accessibility of this site, please contact webmaster@sctax.org.

Disclaimer and Copyright Information
Privacy Statement

Home / Contact DOR