S.C. lawmakers look to modify Homestead Exemption with bill to offer larger property tax cut

State House Representatives working on bill to modify Homestead Exemption
State House Representatives working on bill to modify Homestead Exemption(wmbf)
Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 10:07 AM EST
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - State House representatives are working on a bill that would modify the current Homestead Exemption, which helps reduce property taxes for those who are eligible.

Rep. Wendy Brawley, the lead sponsor of the bill, said the state has a reoccurring budget surplus amount of over $860 million that could be used toward the bill to make changes to the current exemption.

Right now, the current Homestead Exemption is for $50,000. The proposed changes would raise the amount to $75,000.

To give an example of how it works, if the fair market value of a home is $100,000 and the homeowner qualifies, right now they would only have to pay property taxes on half of that value. With the possibility of the change, the homeowner only be responsible to pay taxes on $25,000.

Brawley said $55 million of the over $860 million would go back to local governments to make up for the funds they’d lose from the tax reduction. This would prevent them from having to raise taxes.

The eligibility wouldn’t change if the bill passes and the homeowner would only have to fall under one of the following categories to be eligible.

“So you would have to be 65 years of age or older, you’d have to be either 100% disabled or legally blind," Brawley said. "Either of those three qualifiers will get you the option of outlining the Homestead Exemption on your residence. So it can’t be on a rental property; it has to be on your primary place of residence.”

She added the current Homestead Exemption law amount hasn’t changed in 20 years and raising the amount will help the most vulnerable, allowing them to use the money they save toward food, transportation or medical expenses.

When it comes to Horry County and its growing population, Brawley said this area could really benefit from the changes.

“I think it would help particularly in counties like this where you have fast and rapid growth, where you have areas that were once moderate, where now they’re developing, building really nice homes all around you. That impact your taxes; that actually causes the value of your property to go up and in ordinary circumstances that’s a good thing until it’s property tax time, and then you are faced with a much higher bill," she said.

If the bill doesn’t pass this year, Brawley will have to start over.

The next step is to have a hearing and residents can have their voices heard by reaching out to their local representative.

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