What is ad valorem tax?

Ad valorem tax is property tax, Latin for according to value. Ad valorem tax is based on the value of all taxable property in the county.

What is a millage rate?

The tax rate, or millage rate, is set annually by the Cherokee County Council. A tax rate of one mill represents a tax liability of one penny per $1.00 (one dollar) of assessed value. Each governing authority estimates their total revenue from other sources. This figure is subtracted from their overall budgetary needs, and then a millage rate is set that will generate the necessary revenues to fulfill budgetary requirements.

What's a mill worth?

2023 Millage Rates

How is my tax bill calculated?

To calculate a tax bill, first deduct any exemptions that may apply from the assessed value, generating a net assessed (taxable) value. Next, the net assessed value is multiplied by the millage rate to get the tax dollar amount due.

What is an assessment ratio?

The ratio applied to the appraised value of property depends on the use of the property. Assessment ratio qualifications are set by state law.

  • Primary Residence: 4% of Fair Market Value. (The Property Tax Relief Bill – Act 388 – passed by the state Legislature in 2006 removes all school operating fees for owner-occupied primary residences.)
  • Other Real Property: 6% of Fair Market Value
  • Personal Property: 10.5% of Fair Market Value
  • Agricultural Property (privately owned): 4% of Fair Market Value
  • Agricultural Property (corporate owned): 6% of use value
  • Manufacturing & Utility Property: 10.5% of Fair Market Value
  • Railroad & Pipeline Property: 9.5% of Fair Market Value
  • Business vehicles and private trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight of 11,001 pounds or greater: 10.5% of Fair Market Value  
  • Private passenger vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Weight of 11,000 pounds or less: 6% of Fair Market Value

Why do I have to pay taxes on my vehicle when I have turned in the tags and/or the vehicle has not been in use?

You pay taxes on what you own, not what you drive. As long as the vehicle is still registered in your name and has not been traded, junked or sold, you are responsible for paying the property taxes due.

Why am I getting a tax bill on a car I just bought from a dealer? I thought the taxes and tags were included?

When a dealer sells you a vehicle, the taxes that are included are sales taxes. The bill that you received is for county property taxes. You have a 120-day grace period from the date of purchase of your new vehicle in which to pay the county property tax due on your vehicle. If you do not pay the county property taxes due on your new vehicle in which the dealer purchased your plates for you, a notice will be sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend you driver’s License 30 days after the due date of the taxes. If your driver’s license is suspended for non-payment of property taxes and you also hold a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), it will also be affected by the suspension.

Do senior citizens get property tax discounts on cars like they do on homes?

Property taxes are governed by state law in South Carolina. Currently, state law does not provide property tax discounts to senior citizens for vehicle property taxes.

I am new to the state. What is the procedure for registering my vehicle?

State law provides 45 days from the date you move here to pay property taxes. You will need to come into the office with your previous registration, title or bill of sale for the vehicle.

To obtain a South Carolina license and registration (if you are moving to Cherokee County or made a new purchase):

  1.       Bring in your registration, title or bill of sale to the Auditor's Office for a tax notice to be generated. You can also email [email protected].
  2.       Take notice from Auditor's Office to Treasurer's Office to pay taxes.
  3.       Take your paid receipt and any DMV required documents to the DMV to obtain a South Carolina registration and license plate for your vehicle.

Military Exemption

What property is included in the Active Duty Military Exemption and how do I apply?

If your home of record is not in South Carolina, you do not have to pay personal property taxes on property which you own while permanently stationed in this state. This exemption does not include county taxes on real property. The exemption covers motor vehicles (including trucks), campers, motor homes, boats and outboard motors, personal recreational watercrafts (like wave-runners and jet skis), aircraft and mobile homes (occupied by the owner). The property must be singularly titled in the name of the military service member in order to qualify for a 100% exemption. If there is a non-military co-owner, only 50% of the exemption will be applied. In order for your mobile home to be qualified, it must be the service member's primary residence. To obtain the exemption, the service member must submit their latest Leave & Earnings Statement and a copy of their Military ID to the Cherokee County Auditor’s Office. The exemption is valid for only one year, so you will need to reapply every year.

What do you need to qualify for an exemption of taxes?

You may be approved for an exemption on two vehicles and your permanent residence. If you are a disabled veteran, you will need to contact the Veteran's Affair Office for Cherokee County at 864-487-2579. If you are not a veteran, there is a form in the Auditor's Office that can be completed and sent to the S.C. Department of Revenue; they will let you know if you qualify. Once you receive your letter of exemption from the Department of Revenue, please provide us with a copy of the letter for an adjustment.

Homestead Exemption

What is the Homestead Exemption program?

In 1972, the S.C. General Assembly passed the Homestead Exemption law that provides real estate property tax relief for South Carolinians who are age 65 and over, totally and permanently disabled, or legally blind. The exemption excludes the first $50,000 from the fair market value of your legal residence.

How do I qualify for the Homestead Exemption?

You may qualify for the Homestead Exemption if you:

  • are at least 65 years of age on or before Dec. 31 preceding the tax year in which you wish to claim the exemption; OR
  • are certified totally and permanently disabled by a state or federal agency; OR
  • are legally blind; OR
  • are a legal resident of South Carolina for at least one year on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the exemption; AND
  • hold fee simple title or partial title to your house, mobile home, or life estate on or before Dec. 31 of the year prior to the exemption, and have been approved to receive the 4% legal residence tax assessment ratio; AND
  • were a legal residence of South Carolina for one year

Do I have to apply in person?

For this exemption, the qualifying homeowner must apply in person at the County Auditor's Office. However, if unable to appear, the homeowner may authorize someone who holds Power of Attorney to him/her to submit an application by providing him or her with the proper documents. The state does not allow us to send application forms out of the office.

What documents do I need to apply?

You will need to provide proof of eligibility by providing proof of your age or disability. To prove your age, you may use your Medicaid or Medicare card, a driver's license or a birth certificate. If applying because of disability or blindness, bring certification from a state or federal agency. The agency must have the proper authority to make the certification.

I have two houses and am receiving discounts on one but not the other. Can I receive it on both?

No. State law provides that property tax exemptions and discounts apply only to the one legal residence of an eligible owner. (Note: Married couples are eligible for only one legal residence.)

Cherokee County Auditor’s Office
110 Railroad Ave.
Gaffney, SC 29340

Phone: 864-487-2543
Fax: 864-487-2548

Mondays through Fridays
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ryan Thomas, Auditor
Email: [email protected]

Carson Griffin, Clerk
Email: [email protected]

Heidi Collins, Clerk
Email: [email protected]

Patrick Phillips, Clerk
Email: [email protected]

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