SC Vehicle Property Tax Everything You Need to Know

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SC Proptery Tax, Sales Tax and 5 Other Things to Bring When Buying a Used Car in SC

Title

You found the car that you want to buy and need to know what to do now. In South Carolina, You will need a few things to get it titled and legal. Read further for title info and SC Vehicle Property Tax Everything You Need to Know.

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How to title a car sc

I have bought and sold hundreds of used cars both professionally and privately. While the laws do change from time to time, used car buying is easy if you know what to do.

I will show you what you need and what you need to avoid.

Once you decide on a price and are ready to pay, look at the title before any money changes hands. If the seller can not present a clear title, DO NOT BUY THE CAR. I have had too many used car buyers call me after paying for a car and the seller didn’t come through with a title as promised or the title was signed over to someone else.

You can, in most cases fix an incorrectly assigned title but you have to have an SC DMV TEA-1 form signed by the previous owner. If you cannot contact that owner, it will be impossible to legally get a title. Don’t think you can just forge a name either. If for any reason the previous owner were to find out, you can be prosecuted for fraud even if they took the money.

Clean Title

You want to see a clean title in hand before money changes hands. The front should have no writing on it. The one exception is on the lower right-hand side, if there is a lien listed (a loan taken against the car), the company that held the lien, should have signed it off when the loan was paid in full. If it shows a lien that has not been signed off, you cannot get a new title until that loan is paid off. Do not buy the car unless any liens are signed off.

You also want to be sure that the owner’s name on the front of the title, is the person selling the car. Get a picture of their license in case there are any problems. Do not buy the car if a person who is not on the title, is selling it.

The title should be free of “salvage” and especially “non-rebuildable” markings. Salvage will make it harder to get insurance, will drop the resale value, and make it near impossible to get a loan. While great deals can be found on salvage vehicles, you need to keep these things in mind.


“Non-rebuildable” cars can not be titled and are intended for scrap or parting out only.

The back of the title should also be free of signatures except for the indicated place where the seller signs as shown below. I have seen people sign every place on the back of the title that has a signature line. This makes the title almost impossible to transfer.

Taxes

Before you can get a title, you will have to pay property tax. You will have to go to your county’s treasurer’s office. You will pay county tax and get a receipt. The DMV won’t accept a copy. Different counties have different tax rates. Expect that the more the car costs, the more the taxes will be.

South Carolina no longer calls it a “Tax” (Call it what you want, it’s still a tax) but at the DMV in addition to tag fees, you will also pay an “Infrastructure Maintenance Fee”. This fee will be 5% of the purchase price up to $10,000. So a car that costs $1000 will have a $50 “IMF”. But since it stops at $10,000, a $12,000 car will still only have a $500 “IMF”.

So if you buy a $3000 car, assuming the county taxes are $50, You would pay the $50 at the treasurer’s office, $150 at the DMV plus the registration fee. the chart below will show you what that is.

Registration Fees

Registration Fees Cost
Electric vehicles (Road use fee)$120 + registration fee
Hybrids (Road use fee)$60 + registration fee
IMF (if moving to SC)$250
Infrastructure Maintenance Fee (IMF)5% of the purchase price, but no more than $500
Motorcycles and mopeds$10
Passenger cars$40
People who are 64$38
People who are 65 or older or who have a disability*$36
Permanent Trailer Plate$87
RVs$40
Title$15
Trailers with an empty weight more than 2500 lbs.$20
Utility or Camper Trailers$10

Title Fee

Add to all that the title fee which is $15 mailed to you or $35 if you want it printed while you wait at the DMV.

Bill of Sale

You will also need the blue bill of sale obtainable at your local DMV completely filled out and signed unless you buy the car from a dealer who will have a multi-part bill of sale. I don’t know why this form is not available online. probably because it would make sense and we are dealing with the government after all.

SC Form 400

You can fill out the 400 form on your computer or print it and fill it out at SC DMV 400. You can also pick up a 400 form at your local DMV. These look confusing but are actually pretty easy to fill out. There are several sections you will leave blank.

Insurance

You will need insurance but you should be able to get that online or on the phone. You can call your Insurance agent with the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and add coverage immediately. Most Insurance companies will give you a few days grace period for a newly bought car but I wouldn’t depend on that.

Don’t drive the car!

It is against the law to drive a car in South Carolina without a current tag. You can be ticketed. It happened to me one day after buying a car. I figured that I had all my paperwork and I was driving straight to the DMV. No way I would get a ticket, right? Wrong. Even after showing the SC Highway Patrolman all my completed paperwork along with Insurance, I still got a $65 ticket.

A piece of cardboard stating “tag applied for” or “lost tag” to get you to the DMV will not get it. You can and will be pulled over. The DMV can give you a temporary tag, although it is just as much trouble as a regular tag.

Title Service

If many trips to the DMV are not for you, consider a title service. For a fee, I or any other title service will do all your leg work. Aside from the actual taxes and fees, you can expect to pay $100-$200 for the service.

You can contact me at gene@montysautoparts.com.

Once you buy a car…

Be sure to keep it up by reading my blog and buying your parts and service from Monty’s! Our Do-it-yourself section will also keep you on top of all things car and truck repair-related!

Also, check out my post: How to Save Money on Auto Parts

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