For owner-occupied homes the assessed value is 4% of fair market value. For residential property thatis not the owner's primary residence, the assessed value is 6% of fair market value.
To qualify for the special property tax assessment ratio allowed by this item, the owner-occupant must have actually owned and occupied the residence as his legal residence and been domiciled at that address for some period during the applicable tax year and remain in that status at the time of filing the application required by this item.
The owner must have title (deed or will) or have an equity interest (Contract to Purchase)and the property must be occupied by the owner as his legal residence.
So at first it seems that one simply need to own and have occupied the residence for "some period," without a minimum amount of days. However, once we delve into case law, this is not the case.
The South Carolina Supreme Court has also held, in a case dealing with the assessment of income taxes, that the term "legal residence" is equivalent to "domicile." Phillips v. S.C. Tax Comm'n, 195 S.C. 472, 12 S.E.2d 13 (1940).
"The word "domicile" shall mean a person's true, fixed, principal residence and place of habitation; it shall indicate the place where such person intends to remain, and to which such person expects to return upon leaving without establishing a new domicile in another state. For purposes of this section one may have only one legal domicile; one is presumed to abandon automatically an old domicile upon establishing a new one. Housing provided on an academic session basis for students at State Institutions shall be presumed not to be a place of principal residence, as residency in such housing is by nature temporary." This definition is borrowed from Titlr 59 of Education, but the Court would likely apply this definition similarly for tax purposes. This means that if the court believes that you are actually LIVING outside SC, then the property inside SC is not your domicile, and then 6% applies.
However, there are no hard and fast rules. It is on a "case by case basis," and many people like yourself then operate on a "what the county does not know won't hurt them" basis and continue to follow the county's presumption that their actual, fixed residence is in SC.
So to answer your question - THERE IS NO MINIMAL AMOUNT OF TIME. However to avoid having to argue that the SC property is one's domicile, it is best to spent MAJORITY of time there (meaning more than 6 months), and also not to provide information about the other property unless directly asked to avoid breaching the presumption that one lives in SC majority/all of the taxable year.
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