SC lawmakers say the state can afford to offer larger property tax breaks for seniors, people with disabilities

On Feb. 4, several South Carolina lawmakers will hold a press conference at the State House, hoping to gain more support for a proposal which would expand the Homestead Exemption benefit. (Source: WIS)
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Feb. 4, several South Carolina lawmakers will hold a press conference at the State House, hoping to gain more support for a proposal which would expand the Homestead Exemption benefit.

This offers property tax breaks to homeowners who are over the age of 65, permanently disabled or legally blind.

Right now, qualifying homeowners are exempt from paying taxes on $50,000 of their property’s value. This means, if you own a home with a Fair Market Value of $100,000, as part of the Homestead Exemption, you’re only responsible for paying property taxes on $50,000. Now, lawmakers are looking to expand this benefit to $75,000 with a proposal currently sitting in a House subcommittee.

Sponsors of the bill say it’s important that lawmakers help to support the state’s most vulnerable population.

“They are usually always living on a very limited, fixed income, and while everything is going up, including their taxes, food, gas, medicine – their income is stagnant. So, this is going to be a tremendous help to a lot of those individuals who are trying to decide between buying medicine and paying their tax bill,” co-sponsor, Representative Wendy Brawley said.

Thelma G. Taylor of Eastover has been taking advantage of the Homestead Exemption for the last five years. She says, “It has been an advantage to me because of the money that I can save. Especially for the elderly who are on fixed incomes, they need this bill passed.”

The bill was introduced in the first year of this current legislative session. A companion bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Senator Kevin Johnson.

“This classification of people who fall under the Homestead Exemption are usually those folks who got their home some time ago and have struggled in the economies of late to maintain it given the taxes going up and now that the state has some $863 million tax dollars," Brawley said.

"We need to make certain that we’re getting some of that money back to the most vulnerable populations who need it most and this just a way of allowing people who have their homes to be able to maintain their homes.”

According to Brawley, this proposal would cost the state $55 million of that more than $860 million in surplus.

That would provide assistance that would go a long way for those like Taylor who says, “I need as much help as I can get in order to be able to make my bills, to pay for medication and that kind of thing.”

To find out if you qualify and how to apply, visit: https://dor.sc.gov/lgs/homestead-exemption

Tuesday’s press conference is happening at 11:45 a.m. on the first floor of the State House.

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