Realtors/taxpayers fight reassessment method

More than 200 Realtors from all over the state gathered at the statehouse Tuesday afternoon to urge the Senate to support changes to the state’s property tax assessment methods.Nick Kremydas is Executive Director of South Carolina Realtors.
He says a property tax bill passed in 2006 had unintended consequences on the sale of property. That law, the current law, automatically triggers the reassessment of property anytime it transfers.   “This law has amplified the affects from the downturn in the economy.  It has dampened not only residential sales, it has been devastating to commercial properties.  And there are many examples in Columbia today where buildings are at a disadvantage because of point-of-sale assessment.”
Kremydas says all properties were under-assessed prior to 2006, so the change was quite a shock to the market. He says some home and business values were bumped up 200 percent and more, overnight.   “You’re talking about developers, investment, economic development.  This has been driving projects to North Carolina and Georgia.  It has had a devastating impact.” 
The bill would eliminate large jumps in assessment, above 15 percent, but would only apply during the first time that property is transferred. It would also only control assessment for five years.
But some groups want even more of a tax change. Dan Harvell is Vice-President of the South Carolina Association of Taxpayers and Chairs the Anderson County Taxpayers Association. He was also a founder of several years ago when that organization pushed for the removal of all property tax on South Carolina homes. With the addition of a one cent sales tax, all operational taxes were removed from primary home owners. That group’s push also led to the removal of tax on groceries.
Harvell’s group wants a proposal that would favor primary homeowners even more.  “As it is now, the first transfer of property is free of point-of-sale reassessment to free market value, but subsequent transfers are at full-market value.  That’s a disadvantage to the taxpayer and a windfall to local governments and education on the six percent property.” 
Harvell says the addition of just one more cent of sales tax would eliminate all property tax on homes.