Last updated: August 29. 2014 8:46PM - 280 Views
Wayne Adams Guest Columnist

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This fall, as required by the State of South Carolina, Newberry County will put in place new real estate values to be used in determining property taxes. Periodic reviews of property values – in other words, reassessments – keep the distribution of the tax burden current by capturing value changes that have occurred during the previous five years due to such factors as construction, demolition, renovation, and market demand.

State law guards against counties raising property values during a reassessment simply to raise more tax revenue. Specifically, the law contains a mathematical formula called a “roll-back millage” calculation. If reassessment shows that the tax base has grown, this formula adjusts the base tax rate downward so that it produces approximately the same amount of revenue as the prior year. Likewise, if the tax base has declined in value since the previous reassessment, the base tax rate may be increased, but only enough to produce roughly the same amount of revenue as the prior year.

Once the assessor’s value estimations have been reviewed and approved by the South Carolina Department of Revenue, she mails every property owner an “assessment notice.” This notice contains two values for each property: 1) a market value, which should approximate what the property could be sold for on the open market; and 2) a “limited value,” Which is the value against which the tax rate is actually applied to determine the property taxes due.

The limited value figure derives from a statutory protection that limits increases in value between reassessments to no more than 15 percent. That limitation is triggered in either of two circumstances: 1) the market value of the property has grown extraordinarily, or 2) the assessor is slowly adjusting upward the property’s value because it was significantly under-valued in the past. Importantly, the 15 percent cap does not apply to new construction; it is also lifted whenever a property changes ownership.

If a property owner feels that the value stated on the assessment notice is greater than its approximate market value, he or she may appeal the value. The first appeal is an informal appeal to the assessor; the second is a formal appeal to the assessor. If the value disagreement cannot be resolved at one of these stages, the property owner may appear before a citizen appeal board. Beyond this is the option of appealing to an administrative law judge.

We hope that you will not hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns about the reassessment process. The assessor may be reached by phone at 321-2126, or by email at marrowood@newberrycounty.net. The phone number in my office is 321-2100, and my email address is wadams@newberrycounty.net. We look forward to working with you to make this reassessment a successful one.

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