This week, the South Carolina Department of Revenue (the “DOR”) released it’s 2019 Legislative Update.  Among summaries of tax related bills that were passed this year, particularly interesting to real estate practitioners, is a note regarding Act No. 13 (“the Act”).

The Act provides for a new statewide database for filling all state tax liens.  In the past, these liens were filed in the county where a taxpayer resides and/or owns property.  The creation of the new database would centralize these records and allow the public online access.

The statewide database will also mean that these tax liens will attach to all real estate owned by the debtor in the entire state.  The current system, provided in 12-54-122, only attaches the tax liens to real estate in the individual county in which the lien is filed.

The Act was effective as of July 1, 2019; however, July came and went with no guidance as to when the database would be in place.  The Act merely provides that the DOR shall notify the County Clerks and Register of Deeds once the database goes live but does not give any guidance as to the when that will happen.  This open-ended effective date leaves practitioners and abstractors concerned as to the possibility of missing any tax liens in their searches.  The Act does provide that the DOR shall notify the County Clerks and Register of Deeds once the database goes live; however, this leaves practitioners the only option to be in constant contact with the DOR and county offices for updates.

In the Legislative Summary, the DOR gives the anticipated implementation date for the database as January 1, 2020.  The target date provides a time frame for abstractors and attorneys to be on the alert for searching the new database.

Until implementation of the new statewide system, Code Section 12-54-122(G) continues to provide that a tax lien notice must be filed with the clerk of court or the register of deeds.


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