Another 4% vs. 6% Tax Issue You Need to Know

by | Sep 22, 2017 | Legal Tips

If you are representing a person who is living in the United States on a visa or green card you need to know that the person will not qualify for the 4% owner occupancy tax rate even if they purchase a house in South Carolina as their primary residence.

South Carolina Code §12-43-220(c) states that in order to qualify for the special property tax assessment ratio the owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as his legal residence and have been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year. The term domicile means “that place in which a [person] has voluntarily fixed the habitation of himself/herself and family, not for a mere special or temporary purpose . . . ” Black’s Law Dictionary. In a strict and legal sense, it is where the person has his true, fixed, permanent home and principal establishment, and to which, whenever he is absent, he has the intention of returning. Black’s.

Since a visa and green card by their very nature are temporary and upon their expiration the holder must exit the country and return to their home country they cannot claim their South Carolina house as their domicile. Their domicile in the legal sense remains their home country.

I have been informed by a county administrator that the counties are enforcing this provision. Also, I have learned that the South Carolina Department of Revenue has opined that this interpretation is correct and the provision must be enforced. Therefore, be very careful on advising persons here on a visa or green cards that they will qualify for the 4% owner-occupant tax rate. This will greatly affect a number of university students, research assistants and professors here on temporary visas. In light of the fact that the University of South Carolina is home to the acclaimed school for International Master in Business Administration this is a terrible policy and should be changed. At least the legislature recognized this issue when applied to service members and provided an exemption for those who serve.

On Monday our silent auction website,, will go live and you will be able to see and bid on the $30,000 in awesome prizes that will help support the South Carolina Military Family Care Association. Real estate agents mark your calendars for October 5 for this real estate agent event held at Spirit Communications Park (Fireflies). The doors open at 5:30 pm. Prizes, food, drink, live music and LIVE PD!   


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