This case involves a dispute over whether the Fords" residence on Hilton Head Island should be assessed at the 6 percent ratio instead of the 4percent ratio allowed for a legal residence. The Administrative Law Court held "(1) the Fords" home was ineligible for the 4 percent ratio for 2008 because it was rented for more than 14 days and (2) the sole statutory exception to the general rule that rental property does not qualify for the 4 percent assessment ratio did not apply in this case." The Court of Appeals agreed with the ALC stating further that "the legislature intended to grant the preferred assessment ratio only to those owner-occupants who limit the use of their legal residences to statutorily defined parameters."
The Fords leased their home for ninety-one days in the summer of 2008. The Beaufort County assessor denied their application for the 4 percent assessment ratio for tax year 2008 because their property was rented for more than 14 calendar days during the year. The Fords appealed the assessor's decision to the Beaufort County Tax Equalization Board, then to the ALC, then to the Court of Appeals. It was held each time that their residence was ineligible for the 4 percent ratio and must be assessed at 6 percent. Section 12-43-220(c)(7) states that "the owner-occupant of a legal residence is not disqualified from receiving the 4 percent assessment ratio allowed by this item if the taxpayer's residence meets the requirements of Internal Revenue Code Section 280A(g)."
Internal Revenue Code section 280A(g), to which section 12-43-220(c)(7) refers provides that "if a dwelling unit is used during the taxable year by the taxpayer as a residence and such dwelling unit is actually rented for less than 15 days during the taxable year." The Court of Appeals agreed with the ALC's interpretation of section 12-43-220(c) of the South Carolina Code and denied the Fords" application for a 4percent ratio on their home.