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Old 04-21-2008, 07:18 AM
Location: Dallas, Pa
34 posts, read 149,109 times
Reputation: 24


Did I read that Charleston has a property tax on cars? Is that just Charleston or all of S.C.? So is it true that they don't have a state inspection, but charge property tax? How much is it usually? How is it determined? If this is true, it really doesn't make sense to me...Charge a tax, but who cares if the car is unsafe? So it may break down & cause an accident, pollute the air, but hey, as long as we get our money...who cares... If this is true, then that's why on our recent trip to Summerville, we heard a couple cars without mufflers.. My husband commented that they must not have an inspection law, but we thought we were just joking...But now I hear we might be right... So what is the truth?
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:38 AM
221 posts, read 897,618 times
Reputation: 68
SC did away with the inspection law about 10 years ago or so (I'm 24 and it was sometime during my youth). For the most part, I believe the motivation in removing the inspection was the fact that most inspections were a farse. I don't think they had any major requirements for being qualified to do inspections. I believe you had to take a test or something to get an inspectors license, but most inspectors did a bare minimum to actually inspect the car.

SC does have property tax on vehicles state wide. Its based on the value of the vehicle. Similar to property tax for a house, they give you a very conservative assesment of the value of the car, based on the assumed decline in value over time. My car cost a little over $20k new, and the tax rates in Pickens county at the time were about $400 / yr. In Greenville, the rate was higher, but my car was older by then, so the dollar amount stayed about the same. In Richland County now its about $300 / yr. Different counties have different rates based on local laws. I believe a good portion of the money goes to the local school systems.

I doubt there are many accidents because of a mechanical/electrical failure in the vehicle. The vast majority of accidents are driver error. Newer cars require less and less maintenece, so the inspections have less and less to catch that may cause an accident. As for pollution, the EPA sets the limits for all new cars, and older cars that don't meet these standards eventually die and get off the road. I'm not particularly worried about a inforcing newer standards on a few older cars that may still be on the road.
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Old 04-21-2008, 02:25 PM
Location: home state of Myrtle Beach!
6,191 posts, read 17,499,854 times
Reputation: 3367
Yes, it is true. There are a lot of old cars here and many that belch fumes all over the roadway. Keep your recirculating air running so you don't have to smell it. I have 3 cars that are about 10 years old and each tax runs around $100 +/- some. One is a Cadillac so it costs more. On average the tax goes down about $20 per year.
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Old 04-21-2008, 07:02 PM
Location: Pawleys Island, SC
1,696 posts, read 7,862,072 times
Reputation: 699
I have a 1996 Caravan and I think I paid less than $50 tax on it. You can also have it reduced if you have very high mileage on a vehicle by filling out a request at the county auditor's office. Here are some more points from the Georgetown County website:

Motor Vehicles:

The tax date for vehicles begins with the last day of the month in which a license is required and ends on the last day of the month in which the license expires or is due to expire.

The owner shall make a property tax return to the auditor before applying for a license when a vehicle is first taxable in a county.

The Auditor sends Taxpayers a tax notice in which the Taxpayer has 120 days from the date of purchase to pay the tax. The Auditor receives affidavits from the Department of Motor Vehicles weekly concerning the sales of motor vehicles by the dealers.

The Auditor determines the assessed value of motor vehicles by using guides and manuals published by the Department of Revenue. The value of a vehicle may not exceed 95% of the prior year’s value.

If an owner sells a vehicle, he can request a cancellation of tag at the Auditor’s office.

By turning in the tag and registration, the Auditor prorates the taxes paid on the vehicle and processes any refund owed to the taxpayer.

If an owner moves out of state, and registers the vehicle at the new residence, the owner must deliver the license plate and registration to the Auditor and provide proof of registration in another state. The Auditor will then order any owed refund.

Transferring a motor vehicle license from one vehicle to another does not require the Auditor to levy the tax on the second vehicle until the license expires. The owner simply pays a transfer fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer the license and taxes.

When a nonresident military service person resides in South Carolina, their motor vehicle is not subject to taxation if licensed in South Carolina or the service persons home state. A leased vehicle would not qualify for the tax exemption.
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Old 04-25-2008, 04:59 PM
9 posts, read 81,746 times
Reputation: 16
I just got my bill for $457 on a 2002 Mercedes Benz........... I laughed.
AND $210 for a 1999 Ford Mustang with 135,000 miles on it. ..........I laughed again.

I'm in Spartanburg County........
Aiken County is about half that.
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Old 05-19-2008, 01:23 PM
Location: Pawleys Island, SC
1,696 posts, read 7,862,072 times
Reputation: 699
I just got the tax bill for a 2008 Honda Odyssey in Georgetown County... $379.00.

I suppose it is all relative, real estate taxes are so low compared to what I was experiencing in NY I didn't mind a few hundred dollars for the car. Plus the sales tax on this vehicle would have been $2275 in NY and it was only $300 here in SC.
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Old 05-19-2008, 02:31 PM
Location: American People's Democratic Capitalist Republic of South Carolina
176 posts, read 356,343 times
Reputation: 44
Default South Carolina: the older the car the lower the car tax

If you live (or are moving to) in South Carolina and wish to avoid paying high vehicle tax, buy as old car as possible which still runs well. The older the car is the lower the vehicle property tax you will be paying in SC. That's how South Carolina is "encouraging" environmental conservation. If you buy a brand new car your vehicle tax will be sky high (except to those rich folks in here). I've noticed that vehicle tax in North Carolina (NC) is at least 200-500% lower than in SC and that's a big difference whether you pay $100 or $500. My old car's tax in NC was about $18 and when I moved to SC it became $80.... The new one in NC was $120 and in SC now $500... So if you're moving from North-East then SC maybe a bargain, but if moving within the South then, and in any other case, you may want to have a well running old car with high mileage and that's exactly what I will do next time. I will buy an old car which is in good shape with very high mileage on it and fix it and it will run for me for a couple more decades and save a bunch on taxes. The higher the mileage on your car (the older, more polluting it is) the lower your SC vehicle tax will be...
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Old 05-19-2008, 08:03 PM
167 posts, read 874,523 times
Reputation: 76
When we resided in VA, they also charged property tax on vehicles. The only good thing about that sticker in the car window is that it is a tax write-off. However, we moved back to Florida and don't deal with that any longer, but Fla gets you in many other ways with taxes...big time...
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Old 05-19-2008, 09:35 PM
Location: Pawleys Island, SC
1,696 posts, read 7,862,072 times
Reputation: 699
I am still bewildered that there is no state inspections or emmissions testing.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:06 PM
548 posts, read 1,739,107 times
Reputation: 186
Note tax on the vehicles include school taxes (most of which were removed from property taxes) so depending on where you live you'll see differing tax bills.
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