Legal Residence Clarification
Legal Residence refers to the special 4% assessment ratio for owner occupied homes. This results in a tax savings of one-third of the tax bill compared to the 6% ratio if application for the special assessment is not made.
What is the 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 or recreational purposes. (South Carolina Tax Commission Regulation 117-122)
What are the Qualification Requirements 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 his 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 must have title (deed or will) or have an equity interest (Contract to Purchase)and the property must be occupied by the owner as his legal residence. 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.
Taxpayers who qualify for legal residence also qualify for additional relief as provided in the Property Tax Relief Act of 1995. This relief is applied to first $100,000 of the property value using the school operating portion of the millage (1995) of the current millage rate. The amount of exemption is determined each year based on the South Carolina General Assembly revenue projections.
When do you File for Agricultural use and/or Legal Residence?
The owner of the property or the owner's agent must apply for the four percent assessment ratio before the first penalty date for the payment of taxes for the tax year for which the owner first claims eligibility. Example: for tax year 1999 file between January 1, 1999 and January 15, 2000.
Once an initial application for agricultural use value and/or legal residence has been qualified, no further application is necessary while the property continues to meet the eligibility requirements of this item. In any year that you change legal residence to another property, then 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. View a brief explanation of agricultural use value and legal residence, along with other classes assigned to real property in Richland County.