Frequently Asked Questions
In South Carolina, vehicle taxes are paid a year in advance. If you are renewing your vehicle license tag, you can pay your taxes and renewal fee to the Treasurer's Office and eliminate having to go to the Highway Department.
If you receive a tax notice for a boat or motor that you no longer own, you must notify the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at Post Office Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202. You will also need to contact the Auditor's Office (803-436-2136) for further information. There are forms to be completed in the Auditor's Office.
When paying your taxes, please make reference on your check to the receipt number. This reduces the possibility of errors in posting your payment.
If you receive a tax notice for a vehicle you no longer own, you will need to contact the Auditor's Office at 803-436-2136.
Q. What is the time table for collecting taxes in Sumter County?
A. Taxes are collected on the following schedule for the year that ended December 31:
September 30 - Books Open
January 1 - Taxes Due
January 17 - 3% Penalty
February 2 - 10% Penalty
March 17 - 15% Penalty - Turned over to Deliquent Tax Collector
Q. Why did the Treasurer send my bill to the wrong address?
A. The Treasurer does not maintain owner records. The Assessor maintains Land and Buildings records while the Auditor maintains Personal Property and Vehicle records and these records are dependent on taxpayers to notify their offices of changes in address.
Q: How do I apply for high mileage discount on my vehicle?
A. To apply for a high mileage appeal, you must make a written statement to the Auditor's Office on or before the due date on the tax notice. You may write to: Auditor, 13 E Canal St Sumter, SC 29150, fax to 803-436-2133 or apply online at sumtercountysc.org
Q: When are the taxes due on my motor vehicle?
A. Taxes on motor vehicles and recreational vehicles must be paid before your license plate tags can be renewed. These taxes are due by the last day of the month in which your tag expires.
Q: Why am I being charged taxes for the vehicle I just purchased? The dealer told me he would take care of tags and taxes.
A. There are two taxes when purchasing a vehicle: property tax with Sumter County Treasurer's Office and sales tax with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.
When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, their personnel are allowed to pick up your registration and license tags without paying the local property taxes. When the dealer states that they are taking care of your taxes, they are referring to sales tax, which is paid at the local Department of Motor Vehicles. The tax you paid to the dealership at the time of purchase was the South Carolina state sales tax. This allows you a 120 day grace period to delay payment of personal property taxes on your new vehicle.
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Q: Why did the Treasurer raise my taxes?
A: The Treasurer does not determine property tax amounts. The amount of tax money needed is decided by each of the area's taxing authorities. The Assessor's Office determines appraisal values for real property while the Auditor calculates the tax.
Q: What is the Homestead Exemption program and how do I qualify for this exemption.
A: In 1972, the S.C. General Assembly passed the Homestead Exemption Law which provides real estate property tax relief for South Carolinians who are age 65 and over, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind. The exemption excludes the first $50,000 from the fair market value of your legal residence.
You may qualify for the Homestead Exemption if you ARE at least 65 years of age on or before December 31, preceding the tax year in which you wish to claim the exemption; OR ARE certified totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency; OR ARE legally blind; AND ARE a legal resident of South Carolina for at least one year on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption; AND HOLD fee simple title or partial title to your house, mobile home, or life estate on or before December 31 of the year prior to the exemption, and have been approved to receive the 4% legal residence tax assessment ratio, AND WERE a legal residence of South Carolina for one year. Contact the Auditor's office in order to bring proper documentation to qualify.
Q. How do I apply for Senior Citizen Discount on vehicle renewal fees?
A. If you are paying by mail, send a statement with your Social Security number requesting a senior citizen discount. We will complete and mail your application to the Department of Motor Vehicles.If you qualify, DMV will issue you a refund check. If you pay in person, notify the person posting your payment that your would like to apply for the Senior Citizen discount. Discount is for discounted registration fees only, not taxes. It is recommendedthat customers apply diretly to the DMV for the decuction, that way your Social Security number remains more secure.
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Q. Is there anyway to reduce my tax bill?
A. Yes. There are several exemptions on real estate that you may qualify for. You will need to contact the Auditor's Office at 803-436-2136. Your may qualify for legal residence on your home if you are living in the home and the home is in your name. Contact the Assessor's Office at 803-436-2115 for more information.
Q. Where do property tax dollars go?
A. Property tax dollars go to fund the following:
To support administration of County government and public school system
To build and repair public buildings for County and schools
To pay expenses of court, county jail and law enforcement
To provide for fire protection
To pay salaries for County and school district employees.