What to know about filing a South Carolina state tax return

Towering live oaks, draped in Spanish moss, line the driveway of a plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina, where residents may be subject to South Carolina state tax.Image: Towering live oaks, draped in Spanish moss, line the driveway of a plantation outside Charleston, South Carolina, where residents may be subject to South Carolina state tax.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina has extended its filing and payment deadline for 2019 income taxes to July 15, 2020. 
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and CPA Janet Murphy, senior product specialist with Credit Karma. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

South Carolina was the eighth state to enter the Union and the location of the first battle in the Civil War. But the state is also known for its relatively light tax burden on residents.

For 2019, the state has six tax rates and tax brackets — and state legislators are considering replacing all of them with a flat tax rate sometime in the future.

Meanwhile, South Carolina is trying to simplify its income tax process with its MyDORWAY portal, which allows taxpayers to file and pay their taxes online. If you live or earn income in South Carolina, here’s information to help you file your South Carolina state tax return.

What are some basics of South Carolina state taxes?

Taxing body

The South Carolina Department of Revenue, or SCDOR, collects taxes in the state.

For individual income tax information, you can call 1-844-898-8542 and select Option 1. Phone hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. You can also send an email to IITax@dor.sc.gov.

For technical help with MyDORWAY, call 1-844-898-8542 and select Option 2 and then Option 1, or send an email to MyDORWAY@dor.sc.gov.

You can also get help with tax matters at SCDOR’s Taxpayer Service Centers.

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. South Carolina residents now have until July 15, 2020, to file their state returns and pay any state tax they owe for 2019. As with the federal deadline extension, South Carolina won’t charge interest on unpaid balances between April 15 and July 15, 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension. It’s automatic for all South Carolina taxpayers. But keep in mind that if you’re expecting a refund, you might want to go ahead and file as soon as possible. During the coronavirus crisis, the state is continuing to process tax returns and issue refunds.

While this year is a bit different, generally your state return is due April 15, the same day as your federal tax return. If the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, returns should be due on the next business day. But if you e-file, you get until May 1 to file your return and pay any tax you owe.

If you can’t file on time, send Form SC4868 to SCDOR, IIT Voucher, P.O. Box 100123, Columbia, SC 29202 to request a six-month extension. If you’ll owe tax, you must pay it by April 15 to avoid a penalty even if you ask for more time to file your return.

To request a filing extension online, go to MyDORWAY and select “Individual Income Tax Payment” to pay the tax owed. When you make the payment, MyDORWAY will submit your extension request automatically without requiring further forms or paperwork.

Filing statuses

South Carolina uses the same filing statuses as the federal government.

  • Single
  • Head of household
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately
  • Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child

Use your federal filing status for your state return.

How does your filing status affect your federal tax bill?

South Carolina income tax rate

In 2019, income tax rates in South Carolina range from zero to 7%. The state tweaks its tax brackets annually to adjust for inflation.

What are some South Carolina deductions and credits?

Standard deductions and personal exemptions

The state’s standard deductions conform with federal standard deduction amounts. Those deduction amounts are …

  • $12,200 for single filers and those married filing separately
  • $18,350 for those filing as head of household
  • $24,400 for married couples filing jointly and qualifying widow(er)s.

South Carolina also has a dependent exemption of $4,190 for each eligible dependent, plus an additional $4,190 exemption for each child younger than 6.

Itemized deductions

South Carolina’s income tax calculations start with your federal taxable income. Since federal taxable income is the number you arrive at after taking either the federal standard deduction or itemizing deductions, there’s no option to itemize on your South Carolina income tax return.

Instead, the state has several subtractions you can take, if eligible. For example, if you got a refund from the state and had to report that as income on your federal tax return, you might be able to subtract it from taxable income on your state return.

Tax credits

South Carolina offers numerous credits for individuals and businesses. For 2019, some available credits included the following:

  • A nursing home credit worth 20% of expenses (capped at $300) related to supporting themselves or another person in a nursing home in any state. There are qualifications for receiving the credit and the maximum credit amount is $300.
  • An individual income tax credit of $25 for each individual ($50 total if filing jointly) for receiving a marriage license during the tax year indicating they successfully completed a qualifying premarital preparation course.
  • A refundable tax credit of up to $11,000 for paying tuition for a qualifying child with exceptional needs to attend an eligible school.
  • A two-wage earner credit for married couples filing jointly if both have earned income subject to South Carolina tax. Couples can’t claim this credit if they file separately, and the amount you can claim is capped at $210.
  • A child and dependent care credit that allows filers to claim 7% of their federal credit (up to $210 for one child or $420 for two or more children). The credit is prorated for those who lived in the state only part of the year, and you can’t qualify at all if you’re married filing separately.


What's the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?

Tax credits and tax deductions both work to help lower your federal income tax bill — but they act in different ways.

A tax deduction reduces the amount of income you pay taxes on. Some — such as a deduction for a charitable donation — can only be taken if you itemize your deductions. Others are “above-the-line” deductions that you can take regardless of whether you itemize or take the standard deduction. The student loan interest deduction is an example.

Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions in the amount of tax you owe. You can take tax credits you may be eligible for (like the earned income tax credit) whether you itemize deductions or take a standard deduction.

Learn more about the difference between tax deductions and tax credits.

How to file your South Carolina state tax

You have multiple options for filing your South Carolina state tax return. Here are a few.

  • E-filing with a participating software vendor through the IRS Free File tool, if you meet income, age and other requirements. Be aware, vendors can have varying criteria for who qualifies to file for free. If you don’t meet their criteria, they may require you to pay a fee in order to file with them.
  • E-filing your South Carolina state tax return for free with MyDORWAY. You’ll need to create an account to use the portal.
  • Filing with the help of a paid tax professional.

You can also download and print forms from the SCDOR website and mail a paper return. Here are the mailing addresses.

  • If you’re expecting a refund or owe no tax:
    SC1040 Processing Center, P.O. Box 101100, Columbia, SC 29211-0100
  • If you owe tax:
    Taxable Processing Center, P.O. Box 101105, Columbia, SC 29211-0105
  • If you’re requesting an extension:
    South Carolina Department of Revenue, Income Tax, P.O. Box 125, Columbia, SC 29214-0013

What if I owe and can’t pay?

If you can’t pay your South Carolina state tax bill on time, you must wait until the SCDOR sends you a notice before you can request a payment plan. There are multiple payment plans. For example, you can get a plan for 12 months or shorter for debts of $999 and less — or for 48 months or shorter for tax debts of at least $10,000.

The SCDOR charges a $45 fee to set up a payment plan. You must meet requirements for establishing a plan. And you won’t be able to get a payment plan if you have an active levy or garnishment with the department.

Even if you can’t pay your tax in full by the filing deadline, you should pay as much as you can in order to reduce the amount of interest and penalties that accrue on the unpaid balance.

How can I track a South Carolina tax refund?

To check on the status of your refund, call 1-803-898-5300 or 1-844-898-8542, or use MyDORWAY.

How to track a federal tax refund

Bottom line

South Carolina tries to make filing your return easier with its free online portal. When you sign up, create a complex password that’s different from the passwords you use for other websites. Creating a strong password is a vital step you can take to help protect your information.

A senior product specialist with Credit Karma, Janet Murphy is a CPA with more than a decade in the tax industry. She’s worked as a tax analyst, tax product development manager and tax accountant. She has accounting degrees and certifications from Clemson University and the U.S. Career Institute. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, editor, writer and book critic. Her work has been featured online and in print by the Chicago Sun-Times, Fox Business Network Online, Los Angeles Times, The Washi… Read more.