WSPA Channel 7 News (CBS)

Most homeowners are getting in the mail some extra holiday cheer: property tax bills that show the effects of the statewide property tax relief plan passed by state lawmakers. They raised the sales tax by a penny, using that to eliminate school operating expenses from homeowners’ property taxes.

The amount of the relief varies based on the value of the home, the county and the school district. Some homeowners will get no relief, while others may see their bills reduced by as much as 60 percent.

So you’ve received your tax bill and can see you paid too much into escrow for taxes. How do you get that money back?

Mortgage banker Nathan Ballentine says your mortgage company should contact you this month, or in January at the latest, to notify you of the overage.

“You’re going to have two choices, generally. You can either go ahead and get the lump sum in the form of a check, or you can have it applied to your mortgage balance,” he says. He says your monthly mortgage payments should also go down next year, since less will be needed set aside for property taxes.

Besides being a mortgage banker, Ballentine is also a state representative representing Irmo. “Quite honestly, when I ran for office three years ago, this was the main issue I heard, was property tax and a principle of ‘Do you really ever own your house?’ So I was pleased to be able to work with my colleagues to get this passed,” he says.

If you haven’t heard from your mortgage company by the middle of January, he says you should contact the company.