South Carolina Department of Revenue
Moving to South Carolina
A Tax Guide for New Residents
If you are considering a move to South Carolina or have been a resident for only a short time, you may have questions
about South Carolina’s tax structure. This brochure explains the major state and local taxes of which you should be
aware, including income, property, sales and use, motor fuel and others.
For more specific information, call or visit one of the South Carolina Department of Revenue offices listed in this
South Carolina has a simplified income tax structure which follows the federal income tax laws. South Carolina accepts
the adjustments, exemptions and deductions allowed on your federal tax return with few modifications. Your federal
taxable income is the starting point in determining your state income tax liability.
Individual income tax rates range from 3% to a top rate of 7% on taxable income. Tax brackets are adjusted annually for
You do not pay a tax in this state on property sold in another state.
A deduction of 44% is allowed on net long-term capital gains; the South Carolina holding period is the same as the
Beginning with the first year you receive qualified retirement income and until you reach age 65, you can take a
deduction of up to $3,000. You can take this deduction for income received from any qualified retirement plan. If
both spouses receive retirement income, each spouse is entitled to a deduction.
At age 65, all residents are eligible for a deduction of up to $15,000 from income, regardless of the source. A
surviving spouse may continue to take a retirement deduction on behalf of a deceased spouse.
Reserve pay income received from the National Guard or armed forces for the 39 days of annual training and
weekend drills is exempt from tax.
Disability income from a permanent and total disability is deductible.
South Carolina does not tax Social Security benefits or railroad retirement.
Interest you receive from federal obligations is deductible.
A deduction is allowed for each child under 6. The deduction is 100% of the federal personal exemption, which is
adjusted each year for inflation.
A deduction is allowed for a special needs adopted child.
Listed below are some of the individual income tax credits which may lower your South Carolina tax liability.
A refundable tuition tax credit of up to 25% for tuition paid to South Carolina public and private colleges may be
available for qualifying individuals. The maximum credit is $850 per year for four-year schools and $350 per year for
A two-wage earner credit allows married couples to take a maximum credit of $210 if both spouses work.
A maximum credit of $300 is available for payments made for nursing home care or intermediate nursing care
provided in the home for yourself or another individual.
A credit is allowed for income taxes paid to another state on income which is taxable in both states.
A child and dependent care credit allows you to claim 7% of your federal allowable expenses for the care.
Additions to Income
Certain items of income must be added back to your federal taxable income.
If any out-of-state losses were subtracted on your federal income tax return, they must be added back to your
taxable income on your state return.
The deduction on your federal return for state income tax paid must be added back to your taxable income on your
state income tax return. However, it is offset by your state refund amount if you claimed it as income on your federal
Estimated tax is the method used to pay tax on income that is not subject to withholding. This income includes income
from self-employment, interest, dividends, alimony, rent, capital gains and prizes. You also may have to pay estimated tax
if there was not enough tax withheld from your salary, pension or other income. Estimated tax is paid in quarterly
installments on April 15, June 15, September 15 and January 15.
If you moved to South Carolina during the year you are considered a part-year resident. As a part-year resident, you may
file as a full-year resident or a non-resident. If you file as a full-year resident, claim all of your income as though you were
a resident for the entire year and take a credit for any taxes paid in another state. As a non-resident, you should report
only the income you earned in South Carolina. Your deductions and exemptions will be prorated by the same percentage
as your South Carolina income compares to your total income. You may choose the method which benefits you the most.
You may need to complete your return both ways to determine which option is best for you.
Filing Your Tax Return
Generally speaking, you are required to file a South Carolina income tax return if you are required to file a federal return,
or if you are a non-resident with South Carolina gross income of more than the federal personal exemption amounts.
Individual income tax returns are due April 15 of each year. However, if you file your South Carolina return electronically,
you have until May 1 of each year to file and pay without incurring a penalty. The May 1 deadline does not apply to
federal income tax returns or to taxpayers filing paper returns.
You can file your South Carolina tax return in several ways:
Electronic filing using a professional tax preparer
Online filing over the Internet using available commercial software
DOR website using participating vendors
South Carolina does not impose an estate tax or a gift tax.
Counties, cities and school districts are authorized to impose ad valorem taxes on real and personal property. Local
governments assess and collect most property taxes. Property tax dollars support public schools and the services
provided by local governments.
The market value of a legal residence and up to five acres of surrounding land is assessed at 4% of fair market value.
This market value is determined as a result of a periodic countywide reassessment. The millage rate of the local
government is then applied to the assessed value resulting in the tax liability. The millage rate is set by local governments
and varies widely throughout the state.
The fair market value of owner-occupied residential property receiving the 4% assessment rate is exempt from all
property taxes imposed for school operating purposes.
Based on a $100,000 owner-occupied residence assessed at 4% with a millage rate of 200 mills, the property taxes would
be $800. Millage rates vary from county to county and you would need to check with officials in the county you wish to
reside to estimate your property tax liability.
If you have resided in South Carolina for a full calendar year and you are 65 or older, legally blind or permanently and
totally disabled, you are eligible for a homestead exemption of $50,000 from the value of your home. Based on the
example given earlier, the same $100,000 owner-occupied residence receiving a homestead exemption and assessed at
4% with a millage rate of 200 mills would have a property tax liability of $400. The assessment ratio on a second home or
vacation home owned by you is 6%. The exemption for school operating purposes does not apply to a second home.
For more information about the tax on real estate, call the assessor in the county where you live or plan to relocate.
Vehicle Property Taxes
Personal property taxes are collected annually on cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats and airplanes based on
values listed in the Department of Revenue publications supplied to counties. The value of your vehicle is multiplied by
the assessment ratio to determine the assessed value. The applicable millage rate is multiplied by the assessed value of
your vehicle to determine the amount of personal property tax that you owe. If you own a car valued at $10,000, based on
the average statewide millage rate, your personal property tax would be about $173 annually.
For information about personal property tax, call the auditor’s office in the county where you live or plan to relocate.
Sales and Use Tax
South Carolina’s general state sales and use tax rate is currently 6%. In certain counties, local sales and use taxes are
imposed in addition to the 6% state rate. The general local sales and use tax collected on the behalf of local jurisdictions
is for school projects, road improvements, capital projects and other purposes.
Prescription medicines, dental prosthetics and electricity, natural gas and fuel oil used for residential purposes are exempt
from the state and local sales and use tax. South Carolina residents age 85 or older are exempt from 1% of the state
sales tax rate. A maximum sales tax of $300 is imposed on the purchase of motor vehicles, motorcycles, boats,
recreational vehicles and airplanes.
The Department of Revenue strongly enforces the use tax on purchases made out-of-state when an equal amount of
sales or use tax was not due and paid in the other state at the time at the time of purchase. If you purchase goods from
the internet, catalogs, television shopping networks or other out-of-state businesses and did not pay sales tax, you must
report and pay the a 6% state rate and any applicable local use tax rate due in South Carolina. The use tax can be
conveniently reported on South Carolina’s individual income tax return. You may also download the Use Tax Form, UT-3
from the Department of Revenue’s website, www.sctax.org
The tax rate information on the attached chart, ST-500 (located on page 6), lists the current tax rate at the time of
publication. This chart is revised periodically to reflect changes in the sales tax rate. Counties can impose a new tax rate
at any time, which would impact the tax rates shown. A complete updated list of all counties with local taxes can be found
on our website www.sctax.org under Sales and Use > Publications. 52294014
Motor Fuel Tax
South Carolina imposes a user fee (more commonly referred to as a gas tax) of 16 cents on each gallon of gasoline,
diesel fuel, or other fuel used for the propulsion of motor vehicles. In addition to the 16 cent user fee, there is imposed a
one-fourth cent (.0025) inspection fee and a one-half cent (.0050) environmental impact fee per gallon of motor fuel. The
total fee (.1675) is included in the price per gallon of fuel at the pump.
You have 45 days after moving to South Carolina to register your vehicle in this state. Even if you live in South Carolina
only part of the year and consider another state your home of residence, you are still required to register your vehicle if
you will be living in South Carolina for 180 days or more. The title fee is $15 and the registration fee is $24 every two
Vehicles must be registered every two years in South Carolina. Drivers 65 years old and older pay a reduced registration
fee of $20; the fee is $22 for 64-year-olds. You may renew your vehicle registration through the mail when you pay your
vehicle property taxes.
Please contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or visit www.scdmvonline.com for more information.
When you move to South Carolina, your driver’s license from your former state is valid for 90 days. Before the 90-day
period expires, new residents must visit one of the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles branch offices to obtain
a South Carolina driver’s license. A driver’s license is $25 and is renewable every ten years on your birthday. Beginner
permit applicants must be at least 15 years old and pass a vision test and a written test on driving skills. The permit is
$2.50 and is valid for a year. Applicants must hold a beginner’s permit for 180 days before they can apply for a driver’s
Please contact the Department of Motor Vehicles or visit www.scdmvonline.com for more information.
Visit us on the internet for information on all major South Carolina taxes, advisory opinions, tax forms and other helpful tax
tips. Online business registration is available by clicking on South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS).
South Carolina Department of Revenue:
South Carolina State Government:
1-800-735-8583 or #711