County cracking down on taxes

in Business/The Bluffton News by

By Kat Walsh

Do you have personal property that is subject to taxes? If so, the tax man cometh.

Beaufort County is cracking down on making sure taxpayers are shelling out their fair share on items such as wave runners and jet skis, motorcycle and airplanes. The county will also be reviewing assessments for motor vehicles, boats and motors registered with South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and vessels registered with the U.S. Coast Guard and residential rentals.

The Beaufort County Auditor’s Office recently announced that its Fair Share Program will increase the identification of taxable personal property. This follows a review of taxable personal property the office began last September to ensure that records are up to date and complete.

“As the county’s population increases and the natural growth in the property tax base occurs, the Fair Share Program will be instrumental in keeping taxes as low as possible for everyone,” the auditor’s office said in a recent press release.

Recent efforts at upgrading the process and reporting of personal property have yielded tangible results. Improvements in listing taxable property added over $27 million in taxable property to the tax rolls, creating new tax accounts that paid over $345,000 in personal property taxes this year. Additionally, changes made to the motor vehicle process has improved reporting and allows more time for taxpayers to pay their renewal tax bill.

The auditor’s website outlines the classes of taxable property with reporting requirements.

Here’s the formula for figuring out how taxes on personal property are determined:

• Fair market value: The fair market value is the amount that your personal property can reasonably be expected to sell on the open market with a willing buyer and a willing seller. Values of personal property are kept current through annual updates by the S.C. Department of Revenue and the S.C. Department of
Natural Resources.

• The assessment ratio is the percentage of your property’s value that is subject to taxation. Assessment ratios for personal property vary:  residential property is 4 percent, a second residence is 6 percent and personal vehicles, watercrafts and boats are 10.5 percent.

• The assessed value – your assessment – is the fair market value multiplied by the appropriate corresponding assessment ratio. For example, to determine the assessed value of your home, multiply your home’s fair market value by the assessment ratio of 4 percent.

Taxpayers can appeal the value assessed on their personal property in writing to the auditor’s office before taxes are due. The auditor’s office will then contact the taxpayer to discuss the appeal.

For more information, visit www.bcgov.net/departments/index.php and click on “Auditor.”

Top photo: Boats are just one of the types of personal property that are taxable in Beaufort County. Photo by Bob Sofaly.