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A Deep Dive on South Carolina’s Property Tax

Complex, Inequitable, and Uncompetitive

Project Manager: Daphne Kenyon Funded by the South Carolina Chamber Foundation and the South Carolina Realtors

August 2020, English

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

South Carolina has a property tax system that is unique among the 50 states. As this report shows, it is complex, nontransparent, inequitable, and noncompetitive. Act 388 passed in 2006 with the ostensible aim of providing property tax relief to homeowners, but it has exacerbated the problems with South Carolina’s property tax system.

The chapters in this volume present an overview of the South Carolina property tax system and Act 388; an analysis of assessment quality in our focus counties; data on effective property tax rates for primary homeowners, manufacturing, and commercial properties; data on the shifting of property tax burden from primary homeowners to business property; an analysis of the impact of Act 388 on school district budgets; an analysis of the impact of FILOTs on the state’s economic competitiveness; and data on nonprofit and government property exempt from real property taxes.

This analysis includes data from 10 focus counties: Allendale, Charleston, Edgefield, Florence, Greenville, Horry, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and York. These counties vary in size, geography, and economic status and provide a representative cross-section of South Carolina’s property tax systems.

Volume 1, which summarizes the chapters in this volume and includes key findings, the executive summary, and policy options, can be found online here.

Table of Contents

Volume 2

Chapter 1: Introduction and Overview of South Carolina’s Property Tax System
Daphne A. Kenyon, Bethany P. Paquin, and Alannah Shute

Chapter 2: Property Tax Assessment Practices in South Carolina
Michael Bell and Bethany P. Paquin

Chapter 3: Who Bears the Burden of the Property Tax and the Impact of Act 388
Mark Skidmore, Camila Alvayay Torrejon, and Bethany P. Paquin

Chapter 4: Effects of Act 388 on School Budgets
John Anderson, Bethany P. Paquin, and Alannah Shute

Chapter 5: Property Tax Abatements, Focusing on FILOTs
David Merriman and Daphne A. Kenyon

Chapter 6: Nonprofit and Governmental Properties Exempt from Real Property Taxes
Daphne A. Kenyon and Semida Munteanu

Supplementary Materials: Definitions, References, People Interviewed, Authors, and Reviewers


Assessment, Economic Development, Property Taxation, Valuation