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Paying A Property Tax Bill

 

Q.  I'm a senior citizen who has the Homestead Exemption on my legal residence property.  I received a tax bill, but it doesn't show that I owe anything.  What should I do? 

 

A.  If a zero ("0") is recorded in the "Pay This Amount" blank at the bottom tear off portion of your tax bill, then the tax bill is being provided for your information.  No payment is required.  The tax bill shows what state government is paying to local taxing entities with other state revenues to provide Homestead Exemption and SC (Education Property Tax) Tax Relief on your property.

 

Q.  Do you accept debit or credit cards?

 

A.  Taxes may be paid online with debit or credit cards.  Convenience fees apply to all tax payments made online with a credit or debit card.

 

Q.  When is payment due?

 

A.  The due date for payment is shown in bold type on the tear off portion at the bottom of the front of the bill.  It is on the left side of the line that has the "Pay This Amount" in bold type on the right side of the line.  This is on the fifth or sixth line down from the perforation (depending on the type of property being taxed).  It reads "Due Date For Payment" in bold type.  The penalties for late payment are shown on the lines following that line.  If you itemize on your federal and state taxes, please remember that to be counted as an expense for the calendar year, local property taxes must be actually paid in that calendar year.

 

Q.  Has my mortgage company paid my taxes?

 

A.  The County of Treasurer provides tax bill information to mortgage companies as a courtesy on their request.  Mortgage companies typically include an amount in the owner's monthly mortgage payment to build up a reserve for paying the property tax.  If you have this relationship with your mortgage company they should make the tax payment.  However, you may wish to mail your tax bill to the mortgage company and keep a copy for your records.  When doing so, be sure to include your mortgage account number for your mortgage company to know which account to check.

 

Since the ultimate liability for the payment of the tax is with the property owner, you may wish to verify that payment has been made through the county's property tax payment web page.  Typically, mortgage companies hold payment until very close to the deadline and generate an IRS reporting form that is sent to you summarizing your payment information, including the tax information.

 

Q.  I just bought this property and was never told I would have to pay taxes right away for the full current year and to pay any back taxes that were unpaid by the previous owner.  The subject of taxes never came up between the seller and me.  Who is responsible? 

 

A.  For real estate transactions, review your closing documents or check with your bank, escrow account or the closing attorney - this may have been handled and you simply do not recall it.

 

Property taxes due are considered a lien against the property, so the tax liability is with the current owner, unless otherwise agreed on during the purchase process.  Purchasers of new property should be sure that any outstanding,  delinquent, or pro rata tax liability on the property is dealt with as a part of the purchase process.  As the current owner, the purchaser will become responsible for these taxes unless the issue was dealt with as a part of the purchase or unless the purchaser can recover this expense through individual legal action against the seller.  A full title search by a qualified professional is a recommended step in the purchase of real estate to avoid potential problems with delinquent taxes.  Non-disclosure of tax liability is a matter that is between the buyer and seller.  The county cannot provide legal advice as to disputes between parties to a sale of property and tax liabilities associated with the sale.

 

Q.  I don't  think that I should have to pay taxes to all these taxing agencies.  Can I just make a  partial payment?

 

A.  No, partial tax payments are not accepted by the County Treasurer's Office.  The SC Constitution requires that Property taxes are uniform and equitable and are taxed alike.