In South Carolina, senior citizens and people who are blind or disabled can request a reduction of their home’s property tax through the state's Homestead Exemption Program. Qualifying for the homestead exemption is not an automatic process -- to receive the exemption on your property tax bill, you will need to apply for it. Although the process requires some work, it could yield savings on your yearly property taxes.
If you meet the requirements -- over the age of 65, legally blind or totally and permanently disabled -- you can request a homestead exemption adjustment. You'll also need to have been a legal resident of the state for at least one calendar year before you can apply.
South Carolina’s exemption adjustment makes the first $50,000 of the fair market value of your home exempt when calculating your property taxes. The homestead exemption also makes your property totally exempt from any taxes from school bond levies.
To apply for South Carolina’s Homestead Exemption Program, you will need to provide proof of your eligibility. To apply for the exemption based on your age, you will need to supply documents that prove your age, such as your driver’s license, birth certificate, Medicaid or Medicare card.
If you are claiming eligibility due to disability, you will need to provide documentation from a federal or state agency that certifies your disability status. To request the exemption due to legal blindness, you will need to provide documents from a licensed ophthalmologist or from South Carolina’s Commission for the Blind.
Once you have gathered the necessary documents, visit your local county auditor to complete the application process for the exemption. After you have submitted your documents to your county’s auditor and formally applied for the exemption, your application will be reviewed and -- if eligible -- the exemption adjustment will be applied to your tax bill.
The primary focus of the Homestead Exemption Program is to provide tax relief for homeowners who meet legal requirements -- however, there may be some additional considerations that impact eligibility. Under South Carolina’s law, the homestead exemption only applies to your primary residence -- it does not extend to other property you own.
While you do not need to reapply for the program on an annual basis, you will need to reapply for the exemption if the eligible owner of the home dies or moves to a new residence. If the deed for your home is in your name and anyone other than your spouse, the amount of the exemption will be reduced to match the percentage of your ownership interest as shown on your home’s deed.
Mason Tilford-Mabry has extensive experience writing human resources and training materials, both as a corporate manager and as a small business owner. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Liberal Studies degree. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English: technical communication from Minnesota State University, Mankato.