Charleston County to begin audit of homeowner tax exemption claims

Charleston County to begin audit of homeowner tax exemption claims

Some Charleston County homeowners may receive a questionnaire in the mail next week designed to determine whether they are still eligible for a tax break on their residence.

“This is all about assessment equity and uniformity for Charleston County,” Charleston County Assessor’s Toy Glennon said. “It’s our goal to get as many property owners as possible in line with South Carolina state law.”

Property owners who claim the Legal Residence Exemption on their home are taxed on their homes at a 4 percent assessment rate. But that rate only applies if the home is their primary residence, Glennon said. Otherwise, a homeowner with a secondary residence would be assessed at a 6 percent rate.

County officials plan an extensive search through public records where homeowners may be in violation of the law. In cases where it appears the eligibility of the exemption may be in question, the county will send that homeowner a questionnaire that must be filled out within 15 days.

Many taxpayers who receive a questionnaire will be able to resolve discrepancies and show that they do qualify by providing the information required and returning the questionnaire. Where it appears the owner does not qualify, the Charleston County Assessor’s Office will make the final decision, notify taxpayers in writing and taxpayers will have the right to an appeal, according to county spokesman Shawn Smetana.

The effort is based on similar efforts undertaken in other South Carolina counties.

“If everyone is paying their fair share, then revenues and the budget will be more in line with the needs of Charleston County,” Deputy Administrator of Finance Keith Bustraan said.

The Legal Residence Exemption is not the same as the Homestead Exemption. The Homestead Exemption is a $50,000 reduction in the assessed value of a home owned by those who have lived in South Carolina for a full calendar year, and are 65 years or older, legally blind or permanently and totally disabled. The application for the Homestead Exemption must be made to the auditor in the county where the dwelling is located.

Anyone with questions about how to complete the questionnaire should call the Legal Residence Exemption Audit Call Center at (843) 414-0766, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.

More information can be downloaded at the State Department of Revenue site: