Richland to see decrease in millage rate for tax notices

Richland County property owners will see a decrease in property tax rates when notices go out this week, but those savings will be offset by an increase in fees for solid waste services.

Last year, curbside collection fees rose for the first time in more than a decade and landfill fees increased for the first time since 1993. The fee increases, intended to help stabilize financial operations for solid waste and recycling services, were to be implemented over two years. The increase for solid waste services on the coming tax bills will be about 13 percent.

Richland County Council was concerned that the already approved and enacted solid waste fee increase, coupled with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, would present a financial challenge for many property owners. Councilmembers and County staff worked with millage agencies throughout the budgeting process to avoid raising the tax rate for 2020. Tax bills are due in January.

This Friday, October 23, the Auditor’s Office will mail about 177,000 real estate tax bills, 33,000 business tax bills and 142 personal property tax bills.

The tax bills will include information illustrating how tax dollars are spent. Each bill’s tax distribution chart outlines the percentage of the bill used to pay for a variety of services, such as garbage collection and fire service. The bill also lists the dollar amount that supports the library system, education, recreation and more to show how tax dollars are used in the community.

Three County offices play a pivotal role in the process of tax collection.

• The Assessor: Appraises all property at fair market value and lists it on the tax rolls. The Assessor is a non-elected office. Contact the Assessor’s Office at 803-576-2640 or AssessorOffice@richlandcountysc.gov.

• The Auditor: Creates and mails tax notices. The Auditor is an elected office, currently held by Auditor Paul Brawley. Contact the Auditor’s Office at 803-576-2600 or rcauditor@richlandcountysc.gov.

• The Treasurer: Collects tax payments. The Treasurer is an elected office, currently held by Treasurer David Adams. Contact the Treasurer’s Office at 803-576-2250 or treasurer@richlandcountysc.gov.
Following are a few tax bill-related tips for residents:

• If the property is your legal residence, ensure “Yes” is in the legal residence box at the top right of the notice. If not, contact the Assessor’s Office.

• Check to see whether you qualify for the Homestead Exemption program. Taxpayers who were 65 or older on December 31, 2019, and residing in South Carolina on December 31, 2019, or are legally blind or 100 percent disabled are exempt from paying taxes on the first $50,000 value of their homes. Visit the Auditor’s Office site at richlandcountysc.gov for more information.

• Avoid penalties – pay your taxes by January 15, 2021.

• While County offices remain closed to the public, residents are encouraged to pay taxes by mail or online. Visit richlandcountysc.gov and navigate to the Treasurer’s Office for more information. Residents also may put payments – by check or money order – in a drop box at the County Administration Building, 2020 Hampton St., Columbia. Payments also can be made at Synovus Bank branches in Richland County.