How does the property tax system work?

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In simplified terms, there are three elements to South Carolina’s property tax system:

- Tax rate: The amount generally reflected in “mills*,” or “millage rate.”
- Assessment ratio**: The percentage of the taxable value of property established by state law.
- Market value: The fair market value for both real estate (real property) and personal property.

Taxes are set by the governing body/bodies where the property is located. County Council, School Boards, and the applicable city council and/or special purpose district determine how much money must be collected to fund their budgets and the tax rate necessary to meet their budget. Property taxes make up only a portion of the total amount of revenue needed to fund the budget. Fees, state collected revenues and other sources of income make up the remainder.


*The value of a mill is always one tenth of a cent, or one thousandths of a dollar. For example, a tax rate of 150 mills translates to $.150 (15 cents) tax per $1.00 of assessed value. As your individual property increases or decreases in value, the value of a mill will increase or decrease in value on a county-wide scale. For current and prior year mill rates, please visit our "Millage Information" page.

**An "assessment ratio" is established by state law for each class of taxable property expressed as a percentage. It is the fair market value of a piece of property on a certain date, multiplied by the assessment ratio, which applies to that piece of property. For example, a 4% assessment ratio for an owner-occupied house, 6% assessment ratio for a motor vehicle or a secondary residence, etc.

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