S. 228 a baby step towards transparency

A bill I’ve introduced (S. 228) sets a timetable for property tax assessment notices. In the spirit of transparency and open government you may agree with me on this legislation. The taxpayer should get his/her information at the front end of the budgeting process instead of the backend. In order for a local government to pass a budget, the taxpayer should get the assessment notice first, especially in re-assessment years. Since different counties in the state may have different fiscal years, we decided to set the timeframe in relation to the fiscal year instead of a calendar date. This scheduling method is open for discussion, however. The way the schedule doesn’t concern me as much as the order of when taxes are billed, collected, and spent.

For example, currently, a county can pass a budget, then send out property tax bills, then lastly send out property assessments leaving the taxpayer in the dark as long as possible. I’m not accusing anyone of these intentions, but S. 228 will clear up any controversy. As it’s been said many times “Sunshine is the best disinfectant”.

S. 228 will get a hearing in the Senate Finance sub-committee on property taxes on Tuesday, January 27th in room 228 of the Gressette building at 2:15pm. In Senate sub-committee’s the public is invited to speak and join the debate. We’d love for you to come. If you can’t, post your comments here! 

babysteps

South Carolina General Assembly

118th Session, 2009-2010

S. 228

STATUS INFORMATION – General Bill – Sponsors: Senator Bryant – Summary: Millage rate
HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

12/17/2008 Senate Prefiled
12/17/2008 Senate Referred to Committee on Finance
1/13/2009 Senate Introduced and read first time SJ‑188
1/13/2009 Senate Referred to Committee on Finance SJ‑188
View the latest legislative information at the LPITS web site

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

12/17/2008

A BILL

TO AMEND SECTION 12‑43‑217 OF THE 1976 CODE, RELATING TO QUADRENNIAL REASSESSMENT, TO PROVIDE THAT THE MILLAGE RATE IN EFFECT AT THE END OF DECEMBER OF THE FOURTH YEAR MUST BE USED WHEN CALCULATING WHETHER PROPERTY VALUATION HAS RESULTED IN A CHANGE IN VALUE OF ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS OR MORE, AND TO PROVIDE THAT NOTICES OF ANY CHANGE IN VALUE OR CLASSIFICATION MUST BE MAILED TO TAXPAYERS AT LEAST SIXTY DAYS PRIOR TO THE END OF THE COUNTY’S FISCAL YEAR.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Section 12‑43‑217(A) of the 1976 Code is amended to read: 

(A)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, once every fifth year each county or the State shall appraise and equalize those properties under its jurisdiction. Property valuation must be complete at the end of December of the fourth year and the county or State shall notify every taxpayer of any change in value or classification if the change is one thousand dollars or more.  The county must use the millage rate in effect at the end of December of the fourth year when calculating whether property valuation has resulted in a change in value of one thousand dollars or more.  In the fifth year, the county or State shall implement the program and assess all property on the newly appraised values.

(2) Notices required pursuant to subsection (A) must be sent to taxpayers no later than sixty days prior to the end of the countys current fiscal year.

SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

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