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V.  Motor Vehicle Tax

 

 1.   How do you determine what my motor vehicle is worth?
 2.   What is the assessment ratio on motor vehicles in South Carolina?
 3.   When are vehicle taxes due?
 4.   How do I get a high-mileage adjustment?
 5.   When I bought my car, the dealership told me they would take care of the taxes and tags. Why did you send me a tax bill?
 6.   I received a tax bill on a motor vehicle that I have sold. What do I need to do?
 7.   If I want to transfer my license plate to a replacement vehicle, what do I need to do
 8.   If I move out of this state, what should I do with my South Carolina license plate?
 9.   How do I apply for an active-duty Military Exemption?
10.  How do I apply for the senior citizen discount? 
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1.  How do you determine what my motor vehicle is worth?

The S.C Department of Revenue (DOR) determines the value of motor vehicles within the state by using a set of nationally accepted standards and guidelines established by the auto industry.

  • County auditors throughout the state use the DOR Motor Vehicle Values manual to establish the fair market value in preparing your motor vehicle tax bill.
  • The manual lists each model and make of most available motor vehicles.
  • When values are not provided by DOR, then other nationally recognized sources are used.
  • The vehicle's fair market value is multiplied by the assessment ratio set by law to determine the assessed value.
  • The assessed value is then multiplied by the millage rate to determine the amount of taxes owed.
  • Motor vehicle taxes are the only personal property taxes due a year in advance (in accordance with state law).
     

2.  What is the assessment ratio on motor vehicles in South Carolina?

An amendment to the South Carolina Constitution, Article X, Section 1(8)(B)(1) reduced the assessment ratio on personal motor vehicles including motorcycles from 10.5% to 6% over six years beginning with the 2002 tax year.

  • This reduced assessment ratio applies only to personal automobiles, personal light trucks, and personal motorcycles.
    • The laws were changed in 2006, to amend the gross vehicle weight to 11,000 lbs. or less and the net vehicle weight to 9,000 lbs or less.
  • All medium and heavy trucks classified by the manufacturer are valued at 10.5%.
  • All other motor vehicles will continue to be assessed at 10.5%. 
     

Tax Year Assessment Ratio

2002   9.75%
2003   9.00%
2004   8.25%
2005   7.50%
2006   6.75%
2007   6.00%

 

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3.  When are vehicle taxes due?

Personal property taxes on motor vehicles and recreational vehicles must be paid before your license plates can be renewed.

  • Taxes are due throughout the year on a staggered monthly schedule.
  • You have 45 days after moving to South Carolina to register your vehicle.
  • If you live in this state only part of the year and consider another state your home residence, you are still required to register your car in SC if the vehicle will be here for 150 days or more.
  • For more information, contact the nearest office of the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). 
     

4.  How do I get a high-mileage adjustment?

The amount of the high-mileage adjustment is based on a table provided by the SC Department of Revenue.

  • Use the high mileage chart to determine if your vehicle qualifies for the adjustment.
  • If it does, you may complete Motor Vehicle High Mileage Appeal form.
  • You may mail, fax, or personally present your appeal to the Auditor's office.
  • If you file an appeal, your appeal does not extend the due date. Your appeal may take up to 30 days to be reviewed by the Auditor.
  • You should file the appeal early in the month so that you can receive a revised tax bill in time to pay it and renew your registration prior to the expiration of your tag decal.
  • Once your renewal date has expired, appeals for high mileage cannot be granted for that year's taxes (in accordance with state law).
  • If you do not receive a tax bill at least 45 days before your vehicle tag renewal is due, contact the Auditor's office immediately.
     

 

5.  When I bought my car, the dealership told me they would take care of the taxes and tags. Why did you send me a tax bill?

 

  • The dealership was referring to the state sales tax and the license plate.
  • The bill you received from the County Auditor is for the personal property tax due on the vehicle.
     

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6.  I received a tax bill on a motor vehicle that I have sold. What do I need to do?

When you sell or dispose of a vehicle, you are required to surrender the license plate within 30 days of sale to a DMV Office.

  • If you surrendered the license plate to DMV, you may request a refund from the Auditor's office for the unused months remaining on the registration.
  • If you transferred the license plate to a new vehicle, follow the steps in the answer to the question below.
  • If you are transferring your vehicle license plate within the last 90 days of the expiration date, you may have problems with the renewal unless all paperwork has been processed timely with DMV.
  • Prior to transferring the license plate to your new vehicle, you should have a new registration decal on the license plate.
     

7.  If I want to transfer my license plate to a replacement vehicle, what do I need to do?

Take the registration of your previous vehicle and the Bill of Sale for your replacement vehicle to the Department of Motor Vehicles and register your replacement vehicle and perform the transfer.

  • You will not need to pay taxes on the replacement vehicle until the anniversary of the license plate/registration renewal month.
  • Legislation was passed requiring the Department of Motor Vehicle to develop a system that would prevent customers from transferring a license plate to a vehicle after the first time without first paying the property taxes.
  • This legislation was effective beginning January 1, 2006.
  • See the current State Appropriations 2007-2008 DMV Proviso 36A.7 for more details.
     

8.  If I move out of this state, what should I do with my South Carolina license plate?

After you have registered your vehicle in your new state of legal residence,

    • Mail or bring your South Carolina plate and registration to DMV
    • DMV will send or give you form 5051
    • Auditor’s Office needs DMV form 5051 and proof of registration in your new state of residence
    • Refund will be processed for the unused months.

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9.  How do I apply for an active-duty Military Exemption?

If your home of record is not South Carolina, you do not have to pay personal property taxes on your motor vehicles, or other personal property, while stationed in this state.

  • The personal property must be registered in the service member's name to qualify for 100% exemption (if ownership is joint, only 50% of the exemption will apply).
  • This exemption does not include county property taxes on real estate.
  • The service member can submit their latest Leave & Earnings Statement to the Auditor's office or complete a Military Exemption Application, have it signed by their commanding officer, and submit it to the Auditor's office.
  • You can mail, fax or deliver the form.
  • This exemption is valid for one year, and you will need to reapply every year.
     

10.  How do I apply for the senior citizen discount?

There is no senior citizen discount on motor vehicle taxes.

  • DMV does offer discounts on the semi-annual license renewal fee for persons 64 years of age or older.  Check  DMV FEES with this link.
  • For those 64 years old, the fee is $22 every two years instead of the regular $24, and for those who are 65 or older, the reduced fee is $20 every two years (instead of $24).
  • Even though vehicle registration is renewed only every other year, it should be noted that county personal property taxes are due every year.

 

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