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Edgefield County overcharging taxpayers is standard operating procedure
A Column by the Editor
posted January 1, 2009
COLUMN – I have written several times
about the tax practices of Edgefield County, especially when it comes
to car taxes. I have told readers how to drastically cut your car
taxes, as I will explain again in this column, but I would like to
point out the disparity in the values used by the Auditor’s Office to
determine your taxes and the actual value of your automobile.
Edgefield County bills taxes at the “highest and best use”. This means
that every car, boat, or other taxable item is billed as if it is in
excellent condition. We all know that a vehicle that is several years
old is never in “excellent condition” even if well maintained. A well
maintained vehicle would be in “good condition” at best and most would
fall under the “fair condition”.
You would think that would be reflected in your tax bill. Guess again.
This was painfully evident when I went to pay the car taxes on one of
our cars, a 2000 Cadillac Catera. According to the Auditor’s Office,
the lowest value of the car, even if in need of major repair and having
high mileage was $3,500.
That differed greatly from the Kelly Blue Book value that said with
just over 100,000 miles and in mint condition the best expected value
was just over $2,500. In “fair condition” the value was just over
$1,500, more than double the lowest value used by the county to bill
the vehicle tax.
The original tax bill sent out placed the taxes at just under $100
(including the $10 road maintenance fee, otherwise known as an
However, a quick visit to Kelly Blue Book (www.kbb.com)
“Used Car Values”, gives you a step-by-step pricing guide to find the
true value of your vehicle. After choosing the year, make, model,
and condition, including your zip code, you can find the actual value
of your car. Print this off and take it to the Auditor’s Office to have
your tax bill corrected to the value they should be billing you for.
After doing so for our Catera (I do this for every vehicle we own prior
to paying the taxes) the tax bill dropped to just over $66. That’s a
30% savings. (Depending on make, model, and year savings can range
between 25% and 40%.)
My question is why the lowest rate provided by the county for a “poor
condition” Catera is 30% off from one in mint condition?
Answer, because most people will just write a check and take their word
As I have always said, never pay the tax bill sent to you by the
county. Challenge everything be it your car, boat, or home.
However, there are two instances where this will not work. The first is
if you bought your car new or if you just bought a used car. Those
values are established at the time of sale. However, you can apply this
principle the following year and see the savings.
It is nice to know that our county government is taking every
opportunity to stick it to you when you least expect it. My advice,
always expect Edgefield County government to take you for every penny
they can take you for any chance they get.
Things are no better in the Tax Assessor’s Office. Tax values are well
known to be placed on property sight unseen from out of the thin air.
This brings me to another question. Why, if housing prices have
plummeted over the past two years, are citizens of Edgefield County
still being assessed at such a high rate?
I think it is time to have another “reassessment” since former County
Administrator Wayne Adams, and the County Council, jumped the gun and
reassessed earlier than required. If they had waited until the proper
time you would see a far different tax bill this year.
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JAM Straight Customs
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