Thousands of homeowners qualify for tax breaks, but they aren’t getting the benefits.
The Charleston County Auditor, Peter Tecklenburg, says state programs give discounts on property taxes, but many homeowners miss them or just don’t know they exist.
The Charleston County Auditor’s Office will be contacting citizens eligible for the Homestead Tax Exemption who are not enrolled in the program. Staff believes close to 4,000 Charleston County citizens are not taking advantage of this tax saving opportunity.
“We believe we are one of the first counties in the state to take on this challenge,” said Charleston County Auditor Peter Tecklenburg. “I often speak with citizens who don’t know what tax saving potential is available to them and we decide it’s time to contact people directly.”
The Auditor’s office has identified those homeowners and will be mailing them a notice asking that they apply.
The Homestead exemption is a break for anyone over 65 years-old; the legally blind; or those who are totally and permanently disabled. The Homestead Exemption is a complete exemption of taxes on the first $50,000 dollars of your home. For example, on a $200,000 home, taxes are only levied on $150,000
“We rely on the taxpayers to come forward when they are entitled to some of these benefits,” Tecklenburg explained. The County can’t track a homeowner’s age or homeowners with disabilities.
One of the biggest breaks is for people who live full-time in their homes. Taxpayers should only be paying a four percent tax rate on a primary residence. Records obtained by News 2 showed 1,046 people requested refunds in 2017 for paying the higher six percent rate assessed on second homes. Charleston County refunded $3.4 million for those over payments in 2017. That number could increase since there is a two year window to request a refund. In 2016, 2,159 people claimed refunds and received roughly $7 million back from Charleston County.
Qualifying for the lower rate takes a bit of paperwork, but the savings can be huge, according to Tecklenburg. Qualifying for the lower rate means homeowners must provide a driver’s license, voter registration card and car tax records.
Tecklenburg recommends anyone who may qualify in Charleston County to call his office at (843)958-4200.
Any South Carolina homeowner can apply for the tax breaks. The savings vary between counties. If you quality for these tax breaks, you can request a refund for the previous two years.
Homestead Tax Exemption Form: https://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/auditor/files/Homestead-Exemption-Application.pdf?450
The Homestead Exemption program is one of many tax saving opportunities available through Charleston County Government. A complete list is available here: https://www.charlestoncounty.org/tax-forms.php
For more information on the Charleston County Auditor’s Office: https://www.charlestoncounty.org/departments/auditor/index.php