As explained in the companion article, Should You Challenge Your Property Tax Assessment in South Carolina?, you may investigate your tax assessment and determine that the tax assessor has placed too high a taxable value on your home. If that has happened, your property tax bill will be unfairly high. This article will describe how you may be able to lower that taxable value – and reap big tax savings in South Carolina.
What You Need to Challenge the Taxable Value of Your Home in South Carolina
To successfully challenge the taxable value, you’ll need to establish at least one of the following facts:
- The tax assessor relied on information that is incorrect or incomplete. For example, the assessor may have assumed that your home contains 2,250 square feet of space when it actually has only 1,750 square feet.
- The tax assessor set the taxable value of your home that is higher than the taxable values of similar homes in your community.
- The tax assessor assumed that the current market value of your home is higher than it actually is.
If you’re convinced that any of these facts is true, consider the following strategy for trying to get your taxable value reduced.
Confer With the Tax Assessor
If you have convincing evidence that the tax assessor has overvalued your home, he or she may agree to change the value. If that happens, you won’t need to pursue an administrative appeal. You can get contact information for your tax assessor from the South Carolina County Government Directory. If you receive an assessment notice, request a conference with the assessor within 90 days after the notice is mailed to you.
In some years, you won’t receive a notice – because, for example, the market value increase is less than $1,000; in that event, you can request a conference at any time.
Most tax assessors are hard-working officials who take pride in their work, and do their best to treat homeowners fairly. It’s best to phone ahead for an appointment with the tax assessor or an assistant. Before your meeting, make extra copies of your evidence, such as tax assessor reports, related to the value of your home. When you meet, assume that the tax assessor is acting in good faith and is willing to consider your evidence. There’s no need for you to be argumentative or to complain about how property taxes have become burdensome. Just stick to evidence that warrants a lower taxable value for your home.
The tax assessor may change the taxable value on the spot but, more likely, will need a few days or weeks to look into the issue.
Pursue An Appeal
If you can’t reach agreement with the tax assessor, you can appeal the valuation. Here’s where to appeal and useful evidence for doing so.
Where to Appeal
Within 30 days after your informal conference, file a written protest with the assessor. The County Board of Assessment Appeals will then consider your protest; check your county, such as the Charleston County Board of Assessment Appeals, for details, including what paperwork you need to submit. There will be a hearing where the Board will consider your evidence.
Useful Evidence for Your Appeal
In pursuing your appeal, several types of evidence may be useful, including:
- a recent appraisal of your home
- a contractor’s report showing repair work needed on your home and how much the work will cost
- documents showing actual sales prices in your neighborhood, and
- photographs of homes similar to yours, together with a list of their sales prices or taxable values.
At the hearing, you’ll probably have just five or ten minutes to present your case, so be succinct. Bring extra copies of your documentary evidence so that each hearing officer has a copy. Try to include a chart showing comparative sales prices and taxable values. You may want to arrive early so that you observe – and learn from – other people’s hearings.
If you’re not happy with the Board’s decision, you can appeal to the Administrative Law Judge Division of the South Carolina Department of Revenue. Be sure to file your appeal within 30 days after the county Board’s written decision. Consider Asking a court to Review the administrative decision
If you don’t agree with the decision of the Administrative Law Judge Division, you can go to court for a further review. You must do so within 30 days after you receive the final decision of the administrative law judge. File your appeal with either the Richland County Circuit Court, or the Circuit Court in your own county. You’ll probably need to hire a lawyer to advise or represent you if you plan to go to court.
To find an experienced real estate lawyer in South Carolina, check out Nolo’s Lawyer Directory.
Learn More About Tax Appeals in South Carolina
For more information on tax appeals in South Carolina, look at Protests and Appeals – helpful guidelines posted by the Beaufort County tax assessor.