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Lexington County Administration Building is open to the Public Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1. Why did the South Carolina Legislature pass Act 223?
2. How will Act 223 impact me as a watercraft owner?
3. Does this change my tax amount for watercraft?
4. How is Lexington County implementing Act 223?
5. Will my DNR registration change?
6. Will the DNR registration fees be included on my tax notice?
7. What if my watercraft still has a few years remaining on my current DNR registration?
8. What if my watercraft's DNR registration has been expired for a few years?
9. How does Act 223 impact my outboard motor?
10. What if my watercraft is registered with the U.S. Coast Guard; will this affect me?
11. What happens if I purchase a new watercraft from a dealership?
12. What if I purchased the watercraft from an individual?
13. What if I am moving from out of state to Lexington County?
Property taxes for a watercraft are based on ownership as of January 1st but they are not mailed until the fall. The certificate of title for a watercraft requires the seller to certify that all personal property taxes have been paid to date but also that “all current year personal property taxes are the responsibility of the seller unless an otherwise enforceable agreement has been reached between the buyer and seller”.
Depending on the time of the year in which the transfer of ownership occurs, the current year’s property taxes may not have been issued. If the seller has not received the current year’s property tax notice at the time of the transfer of ownership those future tax notices are often not even discussed. As a result, when the seller does receive the property taxes they assume it is a billing error, because they no longer own the watercraft. However if those property taxes go unpaid, the registration is flagged, making the watercraft ineligible for any future registration renewals.
The DNR registration for watercraft consisted of a three year cycle, an unpaid property tax notice issued to the seller during the year of transfer could go unnoticed until the next registration renewal cycle. Frequently, the new owners are caught unable to register or renew the registration until the previous owner’s delinquent property taxes have been paid. Act 223 seeks to alleviate this tax burden created by this timing issue.
Act 223 ultimately changes the timing of when you will receive a property tax notice for a watercraft (boat, boat motor, or Jet Ski). This legislative change causes watercraft property taxes to be issued according to the DNR registration renewal month, as opposed to the current method where watercraft property taxes are issued in the fall, with a due date of January 15th.
No, Act 223 does not affect the amount owed for watercraft property taxes.
Act 223 changes the way property tax notices will be issued for a watercraft registered with DNR. Beginning in the Fall of 2019, Lexington County property taxes will begin to phase in from the method of issuing a property tax notice for watercraft in the Fall (Arrears Method – similar to how real estate property taxes are issued), to a method where the property taxes will be issued throughout the year based on the DNR registration month (Prospective Method – similar to how motor vehicle property taxes are issued). As a result, over the next few years some watercraft will receive property tax notices in the fall in the same manner prior to Act 223 (Arrears Method), and some will transition to the Prospective Method established by Act 223 using the renewal month of the DNR registration.
Act 223 changes the DNR three year registration cycle to an annual registration cycle. There will be a transition from the DNR three year registration renewal cycle to an annual registration renewal cycle. The remaining DNR three year registration renewals will be phased in to annual renewals over the next few years. These watercraft consist of DNR registration renewals that have already expired, or are due to expire in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
The DNR registration renewal fees will not be included on the property tax notices for 2019 or 2020. DNR will issue the renewal notices in the same manner they did in past years. Starting in January 2021, the DNR registration fee will be included on the county property tax notice. The fee will go from a three year fee of $30, to annual fee of $10.
There will be a transition period to allow the watercraft with time remaining to complete their three year cycle.
If you own a watercraft that has delinquent property taxes, and the DNR registration has expired past 2018, you will not receive a property tax notice in the fall 2019. The property taxes for all expired watercraft with delinquent property taxes will be issued using the new prospective method, based on the DNR registration month starting in January 2020.
Outboard motors currently registered with the DNR will be billed for property taxes in the fall of 2019 and 2020. Starting in January 2022, all outboard motor property taxes will be billed prospectively based on the DNR title month. Outboard motors do not have a DNR registration renewal year, but they do have a title month. As a result, the DNR title month will ultimately be used to determine when the outboard motor will be billed for property taxes. This will not take effect fully until 2022. All outboard motors currently registered with DNR will continue to be issued property tax notices in the fall for 2019 and 2020. However, newly purchased and titled outboard motors (purchased after Jan 2020) will be billed prospectively based on the DNR title month.
The DNR title month for an outboard motor will not always match the DNR registration month for a watercraft. If the outboard motor for a boat has been replaced, the title month will not necessarily match the watercraft’s DNR registration month. As a result, the outboard motor and the watercraft could have two different billing months for property taxes.
No, Act 223 only impacts watercraft registered with The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
When you purchase a watercraft from a dealership, once the registration is issued you will receive a tax notice roughly 30 days from the date the watercraft was registered. This tax statement will be labeled as a 120 Day Tax Notice, and will be due approximately 90 days after the tax notice is issued.
- When purchasing a watercraft that has a South Carolina title, you will begin at your County Auditor’s office. The County Auditor’s office will need documentation of the sale (bill of sale or title), signed over to you, to generate a tax notice. Once the tax notice is paid, you will take your county paid tax receipt and sale documents to the SCDNR to complete the registration process.
Out of state transactions:
- When purchasing a watercraft from an individual that has an out of state title, this transaction will begin at the SCDNR, and the South Carolina title and registration will be issued. Once the registration is issued you will receive a tax notice roughly 30 days from the date the watercraft was registered. This tax notice will be labeled 120 Day Tax Notice, and will be due approximately 90 days after the tax notice is issued.
This transaction will begin at the SCDNR, and the South Carolina title and registration will be issued. Once the registration is issued you will receive a tax notice roughly 30 days from the date the watercraft was registered. This tax statement will be labeled 120 Day Tax Notice, and will be due approximately 90 days after the tax notice is issued.