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Homestead, property tax, watercraft

If you are buying a home in the Beaufort County School District, you can access information regarding the schools on their website.

Homestead Exemption Benefit

What is the Homestead Exemption benefit?
The Homestead Exemption is a complete exemption of taxes on the first $50,000 in Fair Market Value of your Legal Residence for homeowners over age 65, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind.

Do I qualify for the Homestead Exemption?
To qualify for the Homestead Exemption, statements 1,2 and 3 must be true.

1.     You hold a complete fee simple title to your primary legal residence or life estate to your primary legal residence or you are the beneficiary of a trust that holds title to your primary legal residence.

2.     As of December 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption, you were a legal resident of South Carolina for one calendar year

3.     As of December 31, preceding the tax year of the exemption, you must be one of the following:

a.     65 years of age, or

b.     declared totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency having the authority to make such a declaration, or

c.      legally blind as certified by a licensed ophthalmologist.

For more information on the Homestead Exemption Benefit click here 

Contact the Beaufort County Auditor’s Office for application information and assistance.

Personal Property Tax
What is personal property?
In South Carolina, personal property encompasses motor vehicles, recreational vehicles, aircraft and watercraft (including boats, motors, and personal recreational vehicles like wave runners and jet skis, etc.).

You have 45 days after moving to South Carolina to register your vehicle.

Before you transfer your title and registration, you must pay any property taxes with the Beaufort County Treasurer.

For more information on titling and registering a vehicle after moving to South Carolina click here. 

 In the state of South Carolina, the law requires all motorized boats and watercraft, sailboats, and all outboard motors five horsepower and greater to be titled. You must register your boat or motor with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). 

Before you can register your watercraft or renew your registration the property taxes must be paid.

4% Special Assessment Ratio
 All residential and commercial property in Beaufort County is taxed at a 6% assessment rate. An exception is an owner-occupied legal residence which may qualify for the 4% Special Assessment Ratio. If you occupy your property and it is your legal residence, you may be eligible for the 4% Special Assessment Ratio. Click for the Legal Residence (Four Percent Exemption) Application. 

Calculate Your Beaufort County Taxes 

The Beaufort County Auditor’s Office offers a Tax Calculator that will give a prospective buyer an estimate of the property taxes for a parcel of real estate. Simply enter the property value, select the assessment ratio, and select the tax district.

All information pulled from the Beaufort County AuditorBeaufort County TreasurerSouth Carolina Department of Revenue, South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.


Most folks moving from another state will likely find taxes in South Carolina to be slightly (or, in some cases, significantly) more advantageous. Below find some helpful information and corresponding links regarding local and state taxes. Of course, please consult a financial advisor, certified public accountant, or tax attorney before making any major decisions or if you require professional advice or clarification. The content listed here is for general informational purposes only and is not all-inclusive.

Beaufort County

Beaufort County separates taxes into two categories: Personal and Real. 

Personal Property is defined by the county as “All things other than real estate which have value such as cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles and airplanes and items used in a business such as furniture, fixtures and equipment.” Personal property taxes are assessed yearly and must be paid, in full, to the county prior to you registering applicable property with SC DMV. With few exceptions, the County does not offer discounts on personal property taxes. For FAQ about personal property taxes in Beaufort County: Beaufort County Auditor

Real Property is defined by the county as “All land and the buildings, structures or improvement on the land.” There are several factors that determine the rate at which your real property is taxed, including your age and whether the property is your primary residence.

SC Tax Relief/Legal Residence Discount (aka the 4% Exemption)

This discounted tax rate on real property is available strictly to full-time South Carolina residents and is applied only on their primary residence. Second homes, rental and/or investment properties are taxed at 6%. It is important to note that you MUST apply for the 4% exemption as the county will not automatically tax at this rate. Click the link above for the application.

Homestead Exemption

South Carolina’s Homestead Exemption “is a complete exemption of taxes on the first $50,000 in Fair Market Value of your Legal Residence for homeowners over age 65, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind.” You must apply for this exemption in-person at the Beaufort County Auditor’s Office. For more information, please call 843-255-2500 or visit the Auditor’s webpage.

South Carolina

For a comprehensive overview of taxes in the State of South Carolina, read over this publication produced by the Department of Revenue:  Moving to South Carolina: A Tax Guide for New Residents

Specific forms and information for individual taxpayers and South Carolina businesses can be accessed by visiting the South Carolina Department of Revenue’s website.