Governor Haley Signs Military Homeowner Protection Act

sc houseGov. Nikki Haley has signed legislation aimed at providing property tax relief for active-duty service members who are transferred to another base but still own homes in South Carolina.

Called the Military Homeowner Protection Act of 2014 H.3027 (click here to read) and sponsored by state Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, the measure allows active-duty service members to retain the 4% assessment on their S.C. home even if they rent the property.

Currently, active-duty soldiers are eligible for a 4% property tax assessment while they are stationed in South Carolina, but if required to move to fulfill orders, they could incur an increase to 6% as their residence in this state is viewed as a second home.

The law will decrease the burden on active duty soldiers by allowing them to pay their mortgages and keep their homes while they are on the market, greatly reducing the risk of foreclosures, supporters said.

“Our military men and women are one of our state’s biggest assets, and it’s only right that we provided them with the kind of common sense tax relief that works to lessen the burden of their service for them and their families,” Haley said.

The law helps South Carolina’s efforts to be the “most military-friendly state in the region,” said state Rep. Murrell Smith, the bill’s primary sponsor.

“Maintaining strong communities means that service members should never have to worry about losing their home to a tax bill,” Smith said. “We look forward to working with the Military Base Task Force and local commanders to preserve and grow South Carolina’s military assets.”

The measure, passed unanimously by the House and Senate, limits eligibility to one property in the state unless the permanent change of station results in the purchase of a residence elsewhere in the state and the first residence remains on the market for sale. The double exemption may only be claimed for two years.

The S.C. Board of Economic Advisors estimates that over 400 soldiers will be eligible for this exemption immediately, for a local property tax reduction of $357,246 across the state.

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