With property taxes, qualifying a home as a legal residence means it is the permanent home owned by someone. A home can qualify as a legal residence even though the person may be temporarily living at another location, but this does not include homes used for recreational or vacation purposes.

What defines a legal residence?

Owner-occupied legal residence homes applies to no more than five acres of continuous land that is owned completely or in part, and occupied by the owner. This also includes any additional dwellings on that property, and occupied by the owner’s immediate family owners.  

Legal residences are taxed on 4 percent of the fair market value of the property, and a local rate is applied to determine the amount of those property taxes. On top of the 4 percent tax, the legal residence is also exempt from payment of taxes for school operating purposes.

How do you qualify for the 4 percent special assessment tax?

The property owner must have owned and occupied the residence as a legal residence and must have been occupying that address for some period during the tax year. Only an owner-occupant is eligible. If any rented mobile homes or residences or any business for profit are located on the property, the 4 percent assessment does not apply to those rentals.

To qualify, the property owner must apply for the 4 percent tax before the first penalty date of that tax year. A new application must be filed in any year only if you change your legal residence or move to another property.

What documents are required to prove my eligibility? 

  • South Carolina driver’s license or state-issued ID for all owner occupants and spouses 
  • A copy of your South Carolina motor vehicle registration all owner occupants and spouses. You must provide the business address for any company cars on the property. 
  • A copy of your most recently filed state and federal tax returns

If applicable, you may also need to submit a certificate of trust, land sale contracts, or operating agreement for single member LLCs or copies of the court-recorded divorce or separation.  

To apply for legal residence and the special 4 percent assessment tax, visit www.horrycountysc.gov. For questions, contact the county’s Assessor’s Office at asktps@horrycountysc.gov or 843-915-5040.

Paige Bird has been the #1 South Carolina RE/MAX agent for the last eight years. In 2021 she: negotiated the sales price for her clients to get 1.27% more than the area’s MLS; sold 115 homes for a total of $33.9 million; sold 68 of those above sales price, with an average list to sales price of 99.08%; and sold listings ranging from $8500 to $1.495 million.  

Contact Paige Bird today so she can sit down with you to get started in the home selling process at 843.450.4773. 

For more information about property taxes and legal residence, contact the assessor in the county where you live. For more information on the homestead exemption, contact the auditor in the county where you live.