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 (primary 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.
Property tax bills are mailed out in the fall of each year to the registered address of the owner of record on December 31 of the preceding tax year. The “owner of record” is the owner of a boat and/or boat motor registered with the Department of Natural Resources or Coast Guard. For example an individual who buys a boat on February 1, 2013 will receive a 2014 property in the fall of 2014 since they were the boat owner of record on December 31, 2013. The owner of record on December 31 is still legally liable for the following year’s property tax bill even if the boat and/or boat motor is sold or disposed of before the property tax bill is issued.
Example: A taxpayer owns a boat on February 1, 2013 but sells the boat during 2014 before the 2014 property tax bill is issued. The taxpayer will still be liable for the 2014 property tax bill which will be issued in the fall of 2014 since he owned the boat on December 31, 2013.
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 levy 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 levy rate of .3084 would be calculated as follows:
$10,000 x 10.5% x .3084 = $323.82
Are all boats and motors taxable?
Boats and boat motors with a fair market value of more than $500 are taxable.
When are my boat property taxes due?
The last date to pay property taxes without penalty is generally January 15.
Do I have to pay my property tax bill I received 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 2014 tax bill and you owned the boat on December 31, 2013, you must pay the 2014 property tax bill. If you receive a 2014 tax bill and you sold your boat before December 31, 2013, you do not owe the 2014 property tax bill. You must notify our office and DNR that you have sold your boat.
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.
I have a Coast Guard Documented Vessel, what are the tax laws?
While documented vessels are not registered with DNR, 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.