Living in South Carolina is relatively affordable. According to Tax Foundation, the state is one of the least burdensome when it comes to taxes. The average individual income tax rate is 7%, netting a tax burden of 8.4% — placing South Carolina at number 42 in the country, not including D.C. But that's not all. The state's market for homeowners is also very attractive. 

South Carolina offers some of the most affordable home values in the country. But that's not the only good thing. Property taxes in the state are among some of the lowest in the country. That's because anyone who holds a primary residence in the state gets assessed at a lower rate than other types of property. 

Average Annual Property Taxes in South Carolina

South Carolina’s annual effective property tax rate was 0.57%, the fifth-lowest rate in the United States, according to the most recent data from SmartAsset. The state's property taxes are based on the assessed value of a property as well as the local tax rate. The assessed value is equal to the percentage of market value, or an assessment ratio. The ratio depends on what kind of property is being assessed. Owner-occupied residences have a lower ratio — of 4%, compared to secondary homes or commercial properties, for which the ratio is 6%. 

Properties are reevaluated once every five years by local assessors in South Carolina. These assessors determine the market value of the home, to which the ratio is then applied. Market value increases cannot be more than 15% if a property is reappraised, and there is no cap on the value of new homes. So a home worth $100,000 cannot be valued at more than $115,000 when it is reappraised. Provided the home is a principal residence, the 4% ratio would equal an assessed value of $4,600. The homeowner would then be taxed on that amount. 

Local taxes are set out in mills, with $1 taxed for every $1000 in assessed value. SmartAsset reported the average mill rate in the state was between 300 and 350 mills. 

Counties in South Carolina With the Highest and Lowest Property Taxes

As of 2018, Newberry County had the highest property tax rate in South Carolina. The average effective property tax rate was 0.86%. On a property with a median value of $100,600, Newberry County residents paid an average of $865 in taxes. But residents of Beaufort County paid a median annual property tax of $1,373 on a home with a median value of $273,000, despite having a tax rate of 0.50%. 

Horry County had the lowest property tax rate as of 2018, assessing an average property tax levy of 0.37%. According to SmartAsset, the median home value in the county was $162,100, netting an average annual tax payment of $606. 

How South Carolina Property Taxes Compare to Neighboring States

Only two states border South Carolina: North Carolina and Georgia. Property taxes are relatively lower in South Carolina than in neighboring states. As of 2018, North Carolina’s average effective property tax rate was 0.86%, the 21st lowest in the U.S. Georgia’s average effective rate was 0.93%, or 25th in the country. Although Florida is nearby, it also had a higher rate. Its average effective property tax rate was 1.02%.

How South Carolina Property Taxes Compare to the National Average

South Carolina has one of the most favorable average property tax rates in the country. As of 2018, the national average effective property tax rate was 1.21%. On a home valued at $250,000, a South Carolina resident would pay an average of $1,435 in annual taxes at the current rate of 0.57%. Compare that to the $3,028 you would pay nationally for a home of the same value, and that's more than half the amount on the tax bill. 

Other Taxes in South Carolina

One reason South Carolina is able to assess such a low average property tax rate is because of numerous other taxes the state levies. As of 2018, South Carolina assesses a personal income tax, with six tax brackets topping out at 7%. South Carolina’s state sales tax rate as of 2018 was 6%, and lodging taxes were 7%. In addition, the states imposed a 5% casual excise tax on all motor vehicles, motorcycles, boats and airplanes. South Carolina has multiple revenue streams from tax assessments, which allows the levying of lower property tax rates.

Impact of Property Taxes on Public Education System

With two-thirds of property tax revenue going to support public education, low rates have an impact on overall education. Although South Carolina has other tax revenue streams, it comes in 36th nationwide for how much money is spent on public education. WalletHub ranked South Carolina’s public school system as the tentth-worst school system as of 2018, excluding the District of Columbia. Although low property tax rates are beneficial to property owners and prospective home buyers, the impact of this low tax assessment is decreased spending on public education, resulting in poor performance rates by students and districts.

The Bottom Line

Property taxes are calculated on the assessed ratio of the property value in South Carolina. This is one of the reasons why the state is one of the least expensive in terms of property taxes for principal, owner-occupied residences. And although taxes fund a good potion of public education, it still has one of the country's worst school systems.

Tennessee Property Tax Guide

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