Property Taxes

Under South Carolina law, all boats and boat motors are subject to annual property tax as follows:

If owned by an individual - taxes must be paid in the county in which an owner resides (principal residence)
If not owned by an individual (i.e. corporation) - taxes must be paid in the county in which the boat or boat motor is located.
See information below on registering a boat or boat motor in South Carolina.

Property tax bills are mailed in the fall of each year to the registered address of the owner of record on December 31 of the preceding year. The “owner of record” is the owner of a boat or boat motor registered with the Department of Natural Resources or Coast Guard (see boat registration information below). For example, an individual who buys a boat on June 2, 2010 will receive a 2011 property tax bill in the fall of 2011 since they were the boat owner of record on December 31, 2010.

The owner of record on December 31 is still legally liable for the following year’s property tax bill even if the boat or boat motor is sold or disposed of before the property tax bill is issued.

Example: A taxpayer owns a boat on December 31st, 2010 but sells the boat during 2011 before the 2011 property tax bill is issued. The taxpayer will still be liable for the 2011 property tax bill which will be issued in the fall of 2011 since he owned the boat on the previous December 31.
Note (especially for boat buyers): A boat or boat motor with unpaid property taxes from a prior year cannot be registered by a new owner until all outstanding taxes have been paid.

The amount of tax for a boat or boat motor is based upon the fair market value of the boat or boat motor, a 10.5% assessment ratio, and the tax millage rate applicable to the owner of record’s address.

Example: The annual tax on a boat with a fair market value of $10,000 whose owner resides in a tax district with a tax millage rate of 344 mills would be calculated as follows: $10,000 x 10.5% x .344 = $361.20
State law provides for a reduction in the assessment ratio used to calculate boat taxes if the boat qualifies as a second residence (sleeping, cooking, toilet facilities, etc). If your boat qualifies for this reduction in the assessment ratio to 6%, you must annually apply by submitting a Residential Status Affidavit form to the Greenville County Auditor’s Office. (Some boats may not qualify, please contact the Auditor Office for questions.)
Registering a Boat or Boat Motor

The registration and title requirements for all watercraft (boats) and outboard motors (boat motors) are determined by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These requirements and the necessary steps for registering watercraft and outboard motors can be found on the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/boating.

Additionally, answers to the following questions can be found on the DNR website under the FAQ section:

Sales Tax

South Carolina requires the payment of Casual Excise Tax or Use Tax when purchasing a boat or boat motor. Information about these taxes can be found on the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/taxinfo. Please note - the Greenville County Auditor Office does not collect this excise or use tax - any questions regarding these taxes must be addressed by the SC Dept of Revenue (Local: 864-241-1200 or 803-896-1420) or DNR (803-734-3857).

 

 

Q & A

• How much can I expect to pay in boat property taxes?
For every $10,000 in fair market value, annual property taxes will be in the range of $250 to $375 depending upon the location of the owner in Greenville County.

• Where do I pay my boat property taxes?
It depends upon who owns the boat or boat motor:

If owned by an individual - taxes must be paid in the county in which an owner resides (principal residence)
If not owned by an individual (i.e. corporation) - taxes must be paid in the county in which the boat or boat motor is located.
If required to pay property taxes to another county, you must contact that County’s Auditor Office. The Greenville County Auditor Office cannot assist you with boat or boat motor property taxes which are due to another county.

If you have received a property tax bill:

All payments for property taxes must be made at the office of the Greenville County Tax Collector. Tax payments can also be mailed or paid online at www.greenvillecounty.org

If you do not have your tax bill for a boat or boat motor you have previously registered:

If you lived in Greenville as of December 31 of the prior year and did not receive a property tax bill for your boat or boat motor which had been previously registered, you may locate and pay your property tax bill online at www.greenvillecounty.org or you may visit the Auditor Office to get a copy of your property tax bill which can then be paid at the Greenville Tax Collector Office.

If you do not have a tax bill for a boat or boat motor you recently purchased:

You must first register your boat or boat motor with DNR (see Registering a Boat or Boat Motor). DNR will then send your boat registration information to the County Auditor Office when the next property tax bills are due.

• Where do I pay taxes if I live in Greenville County but my boat docks in another county?
If owned by an individual:

taxes must be paid in the county in which an owner resides (principal residence) regardless of where the boat or boat motor is located in South Carolina.

If not owned by an individual (i.e. corporation):

taxes must be paid in the county in which the boat or boat motor is located.

If required to pay property taxes to another county, you must contact the Auditor Office in that County. The Greenville County Auditor Office cannot assist you with boat or boat motor property taxes which are due to another county.

• Where do I pay taxes if I move out of Greenville County into another county?
If a boat or boat motor is owned by an individual:

you should pay taxes in the county in which you lived (principal residence) on December 31 of the year preceding the tax bill date.

If the boat or boat motor is not owned by an individual (i.e. corporation):

the taxes should continue to be paid to the county in which the boat or boat motor was located on December 31 of the year preceding the tax bill date.
Example: An individual with a S.C. registered boat lived in Greenville County on December 31, 2010 but moved to Anderson County on January 5, 2011. They received a 2011 boat property tax bill in October 2011. The individual should pay the 2011 property tax bill to Greenville County but change their boat registration address with DNR to ensure that their 2012 property tax bill is issued by Anderson County.

• Are all boats and motors taxable?
Boats or boat motors with a fair market value of less than $500 are not taxable.

• When are my boat property taxes due?
The last date to pay property taxes without penalty is generally January 15. (The date may vary slightly depending upon holidays and weekends - you should check your tax bill for the specific due date). Any question about penalties should be directed to the Tax Collector. (864.467.7050)

• Do I have to pay a property tax bill I received in this year if I sold my boat before December 31st of last year?

No, only the owner of record on December 31 of the year preceding a tax bill is liable for the property tax.

For Example:
If you receive a 2011 tax bill and you owned the boat on December 31, 2010, you must pay the 2011 property tax bill. If you receive a 2011 tax bill and you sold your boat before December 31, 2010, you do not owe the 2011 property tax bill.

You must notify DNR that you have sold your boat and contact the Auditor Office to have your tax bill removed. You will need to provide a copy of the tax bill you received and proof of sale (a Bill of Sale or Notarized Statement which includes the boat or boat motor identification number and the date of sale).

• How do I change my address on my boat or boat motor registration?
It is important to keep your address current so that you are not charged an incorrect tax amount and to ensure that you can continue receiving and paying your annual tax bills before the penalty date. If you have moved into or within Greenville County please do the following:

1. Notify the DNR of your new address. See the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/boating for information on how to change your address.
2. Contact the Auditor Office by calling 864-467-7040 or faxing the Boat Owner Address Change Form to 864-467-5960.

• Can I appeal the value on my boat/motor?
Yes. However, any appeal of value must be submitted to the Auditor’s office prior to the due date of the property tax bill. An appeal does not extend the due date of the property tax bill.

In order to appeal the value assigned to your boat, please submit a Boat Value Review Form. This form may be faxed (864.467.5960) or mailed to the Auditor Office at 301 University Ridge, Suite 800, Greenville SC 29601. Please note that after review of your appeal, the Auditor Office may require that you provide an appraisal of your boat certified by a boat dealer or marina.

You may contact the Auditor's Office for additional information (846.467.7040) but please be prepared to leave a voicemail message during November to January since the Auditor Office experiences high call volume during this timeframe.

• Does an appeal of boat value extend my tax deadline?
No, taxes are due on the due date even if an appeal has been filed and penalties will still apply to late payments. Refer to your tax bill for the exact due date. A successful appeal submitted prior to the tax bill due date will result in a refund of any overpaid tax.

• I have a Coast Guard Documented Vessel, what are the tax laws?
While documented vessels are not registered with DNR (they are listed on the DNR website as exempted from registration requirements), they are subject to annual property tax in the same manner as registered boats and boat motors and an annual property tax bill is sent each fall to owners of documented vessels.

For further information on documented vessels, please visit the United States Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center.

 

Links

S.C. Department of Natural Resources
www.dnr.sc.gov/boating
Rembert C. Dennis Building
1000 Assembly St, Room 104
Columbia, S.C. 29201
Telephone 803-734-3857

Clemson Office
311 Natural Resources Drive
Clemson, SC 29631
Phone: 864-654-8266

 

Department of Revenue
www.sctax.org

Greenville Service Center
545 N. Pleasantburg Drive
Greenville, SC 29607-1576
Phone: 864-241-1200

Columbia Main Office
301 Gervais Street
P.O. Box 125
Columbia, S.C. 29214
Phone: 803-898-5000
Fax: 803-898-5822

 

Back to Top