Legal Residence

Legal Residence Special Assessment
Legal Residence refers to the special 4% assessment ratio for owner-occupied homes. This results in a tax savings when compared to the 6% ratio if application for the special assessment is not made. The State of South Carolina provides for a homeowner to claim one residence at a special assessment providing they meet certain requirements (Section 12-43-220).

This is called a “Homestead Exemption” in other states and jurisdictions but is not to be confused with the Homestead Exemption in South Carolina which is for people over 65, permanently disabled, or legally blind.

Definition of Legal Residence
For property tax purposes the term "Legal Residence" shall mean the permanent home or dwelling place owned by a person and occupied by the owner thereof. It shall be the place where he intends to remain permanently for an indefinite time even though he may temporarily be living at another location. However, the same shall not include a residence maintained principally for vacation, recreational purposes or rental property.

Qualification Requirement for Legal Residence
To qualify for the special property tax assessment ratio allowed by this item, the owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as their legal residence and been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year and remain in that status at the time of filing the application required by this item.

The owner cannot be a legal resident in any other location nor in a jurisdiction other than Spartanburg, South Carolina for any purpose. Neither the homeowner nor any other member of their household is residing in or occupying any other residence which they or any member of their immediate family has qualified for the special assessment ratio allowed by this section.

The owner must have title (deed or will) or bond for title recorded in the Register of Deeds Office or have an equity interest (Contract for Sale); and the property must be occupied by the owner as their legal residence. If this property is owned by a trust, the income beneficiary is the legal resident of the property and qualifies for special assessment.

The property can include not more than five acres contiguous thereto and be owned totally or in part in fee or by life estate, but shall not include any portion which is not owned and occupied for residential purposes.

The owner-applicant must make Application attesting, “Under penalty of perjury I certify that: the residence which is subject of this application is my legal residence and where I am domiciled at the time of this application and that I do not claim to be a legal resident of a jurisdiction other than South Carolina for any purpose and that neither I nor any other member of my household is residing in or occupying any other residence which I or any member of my immediate family has qualified for the special assessment ratio allowed by this section.”

Taxpayers who qualify for legal residence also qualify for additional relief as provided in the Property Tax Reform Act of 2006. This relief is applied to 100% of the school operating portion of the millage.

When to File for Legal Residence
The owner of the property or the owner's agent must make Application for the 4% assessment ratio before the first penalty date for the payment of taxes for the tax year for which the owner first claims eligibility.

In any year that you change legal residence to another property, a new application must be filed on the new legal residence during the filing period. The owner shall notify the assessor of any change in use within six months of the change. Remember: Failure to file and become qualified means an automatic 6% assessment.
Facts You May Want to Know About Property Taxes
Spartanburg County wants you to get the tax relief you are entitled to.
If you are eligible for the legal residence special assessment and the application is not filed with our office, the allowable tax relief cannot be applied to the original tax bill that will be issued this fall. Failure to file the application may delay a revised tax bill beyond December 31st, it will disrupt payments and balances of escrow accounts with your mortgage company and it will affect the county’s total assessment base, which is used to calculate millage rates.

The following example shows the benefits of the special assessment on a home with a taxable value of $100,000 using an average tax rate and an average Property Tax Relief rate.
Property Tax if assessed at 4% (Owner Occupied Residential Property)
Taxable Value X Owner Occupied Assessment = Assessed Value X Tax Rate = Total Tax
$100,000 X 4% = $4,000 X .3554 = $1421.60
Total Tax Less Property Tax Relief = Total Tax Due        
$1421.60 - $812 = $609.60        
Property Tax if assessed at 6%. (Non Owner Occupied Residential Property)
Taxable Value X Non Owner Occupied Assessment = Assessed Value X Tax Rate  = Total Tax Due
$100,000 X 6% = $6000  X .3554 = $2132.40
In this example, the property tax assessed a Non Owner Occupied is $1,522.80 higher (over 3 times higher) than if it was assessed as Owner Occupied.

The actual amount of savings depends on the school district in which the property is located.

The property owner occupant is responsible for filing the application, not the mortgage company nor the closing attorney. If you have received the application, there has been a change to the property such as a new deed or plat, a newly constructed house or a change in mailing address and there is not a current application on file for this parcel. If you do not file the application, the property will be assessed at the 6% rate without property tax relief.

Contact Information 
Spartanburg County Assessor’s Office
Phone: 864-596-2544
Fax: 864-596-2223
Email: [email protected]

Common Forms