What is personal property?

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In South Carolina, "personal property" includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and outboard motors (watercrafts), documented vessels, airplanes, signs, and items used in rental properties such as furnishings and appliances. Personal property tax also applies to equipment, furniture, fixtures, and machinery used in the operation of businesses.

Meanwhile, "real property" refers to real estate, such as houses (improvements), land, and mobile homes. These types of property and their associated accounts are primarily managed by the Beaufort County Assessor's office.


With the exception of motor vehicles and watercrafts, personal property taxes must be paid by January 15th of the following year, unless that day falls on a county holiday or weekend. For businesses, rental property, documented vessels, and aircraft, if you owned the property on December 31st preceding the current tax year, you are responsible for taxes for that entire year. For example, if you owned a documented vessel on December 31st, 2022, you are responsible for paying the taxes that would be due by January 15th, 2023. These types of property are taxed in arrears.

On the other hand, personal property taxes on South Carolina-registered motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, and watercrafts are due throughout the year on a staggered monthly schedule. For motor vehicles, bills must be paid before your decal, registration, and license plates can be renewed with DMV. For boats, bills must be paid before your registration can be renewed with DNR. Motor vehicles and watercrafts are taxed in advance as opposed to arrears.


For motor vehicles, values for personal property are kept current through annual updates by the South Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR). For watercrafts, documented vessels, and aircraft, nationally recognized sources approved by DOR are used.


If registered for personal use in South Carolina, trailers are exempt from personal property taxes. For example: utility trailers (open or closed bed), heavy equipment trailers, cargo trailers, boat trailers, farm trailers, dump trailers, dry van trailers, car trailers, and horse trailers. For these kinds of trailers, you may visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have title work updated to South Carolina. Permanent plates may also be requested with their department.

However, if the trailer has living quarters, it will be treated as a camper/travel trailer and be charged personal property taxes. Likewise, if the trailer will be registered under a business name, a personal property tax bill will need to be created by the Auditor's office and paid with the Treasurer's office prior to visiting DMV.

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