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Tax officials expect confusion with tag changes

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 6:21 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 1:39 AM
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Vehicle owners who trek to the tag office each year to renew their car tags typically bring a driver’s license and proof of insurance.

Kara Mauldin helps Amy Sorrow renew her car tag.  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Kara Mauldin helps Amy Sorrow renew her car tag.

After March 1, they’ll also need to bring patience.

Georgia House Bill 386, signed into law last year, includes a provision to eliminate the so-called “birthday tax” charged to vehicle owners when their ad valorem tax is due. But county officials are worried that implementation will create confusion.

“We thought it was just a little bit deceitful for the legislators to say, ‘Oh, we did away with the birthday tax,’ because they essentially have not,” said Columbia County Tax Commissioner Kay Allen.

“If you bought a vehicle prior to Jan. 1, 2012, nothing is different – not one thing is different,” she said. “You still pay the birthday tax every year” for the next 10 years, when all vehicles roll into the program.

Much of the confusion from the reform, which the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute calls “complicated,” will arise from motorists who purchased vehicles between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28 of this year.

Those who bought from Georgia auto dealers during that period will have already paid sales tax and possibly the ad valorem tax once on the vehicle, and can either opt out and continue paying the “birthday tax,” or possibly pay little or nothing to opt in and thereby end future payments.

However, car purchasers who avoided paying sales tax by buying from a private owner now will be hit with new fees based on the vehicle’s value, Allen said. The change also will apply to those who purchased vehicles from a dealer outside of Georgia. Many of those buyers likely won’t discover the change until they buy a tag.

“There’s going to be a lot of unhappy people who show up to their counter at the tax office who have bought a car from a friend and they say before you can get it registered and titled you’ll owe 6¾ more percent,” said County Commission Chairman Ron Cross. “I don’t think the public has any idea of what’s going to happen in that situation.”

“It’s going to be mass confusion,” Allen said. Her office is trying to head it off by inserting informational flyers into water bills, along with providing updates on the tax office Web site.

Further complicating the process is that the state’s system, into which county workers enter the information, won’t go “live” until March 1 – the day all the changes go into effect.

As a result, Columbia County’s tag office that day will be closed until noon, Allen said, so staff members can learn the new system before receiving customers.

During the county’s initial budget meeting Tuesday morning, Allen warned county officials that because calculating the new tag fees could double the amount of time each renewal takes, she’ll need to hire additional staff.

“When people come in there and you say, ‘Oh, Mr. Kennedy, instead of $38 it’s going to be $238,’ we’ve got some people who can’t afford it,” Allen said. “There are going to be some confrontations.”

TAG CHANGES

• Owners of vehicles purchased before Jan. 1, 2012, will see no changes in the way annual renewals are calculated.

• Owners of vehicles purchased from dealers in Georgia between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, will have the option of paying any additional fees and opting into the new system, or opting out and continuing to pay the “birthday tax.”

• Owners of vehicles purchased from private individuals or from out-of-state dealers between Jan. 1, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, must pay an additional fee based on the value of the vehicle when purchasing a tag for the first time.

• Drivers purchasing tags should bring their driver’s licenses, which must have the same address as the vehicle being registered. For new registrations, customers also should bring receipts or bills of sale and proof of insurance.

Source: Columbia County Tax Commissioners Office

Comments (12) Add comment
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I'm Back Again
307
Points
I'm Back Again 02/13/13 - 10:42 pm
0
0
Wow!!!
Unpublished

Wow!!!

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 02/14/13 - 08:40 am
2
0
Ain't government grand. You never own anything.
Unpublished

You perpetually pay the government for the use of your property. Laws are written by some of the greatest comedians in the business. Those reading and those collecting taxes are laughing their brains out.

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 02/14/13 - 08:41 am
2
0
Don't forget that additional 1% sales tax.
Unpublished

Even if you paid 7% sales tax upfront on your vehicle last year, you still own an additional 1%. Surprise, surprise.

walrus4ever
354
Points
walrus4ever 02/14/13 - 09:03 am
4
0
hat a mess

What about those that relocated from other states and brought their vehicles with them. It already cost me a pile of money to get Georgia registration and pay double taxes for last year. What a mess.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 02/14/13 - 09:18 am
5
2
So if you buy a car from an

So if you buy a car from an out of state dealer you get to pay sales tax twice? Good thing the GOP is "anti-tax". Also, you pay $10 grand for a car, but the state can say it's a $15,000 car? Great.

rmwhitley
5526
Points
rmwhitley 02/14/13 - 09:33 am
1
0
politicians,
Unpublished

democrat and republican, are about as useful as a lowyer advocating tort reform. Never happen.

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 02/14/13 - 09:36 am
1
0
You create confusion....
Unpublished

you expect there to be confusion. Is everyone laughing? This is the future of our once great society. Legislate confusion and then be surprised when there is confusion. Create confusion and then justify more state employees to handle the confusion. LOL LOL LOL

Fifty one percent of our society is illiterate and the other 49% are victims of illiteracy. You figure out who is whom.

It is like a carnival "shell and pea game".

soapy_725
43555
Points
soapy_725 02/14/13 - 09:41 am
1
0
And unless CC has redisigned its new......
Unpublished

tag renewal office since last August, there was more room for the employees and less room inside the doors for customers. A giant room. A glorious room. But the stop here and wait line was no more than the old facility. Major expanses between "stop here" and service windows. Maybe they will install wait here signs at each window. And of course this confusion will necessitate armed CCSO deputies to keep the peace.

rc4less
5
Points
rc4less 02/14/13 - 10:03 am
3
0
Sales tax for person to person auto sales

I wonder how many of our elected representatives who voted for this bill were given campaign contributions from new and used car dealers. And they "snuck" this in by calling it relief from the "Birthday Tax"

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 02/14/13 - 10:32 am
4
0
Taxes? Confusing?

I just can't believe that now.

mooseye
264
Points
mooseye 02/14/13 - 10:33 am
4
0
sales tax is a rip off in any form

if you buy something for $10, you pay a percent to the government for the use of that money. If the person you paid the $10 to spends it, they also pay the same percentage. After this happens about 10 or 12 times, the original $10 is long gone, eaten up by the taxes.
Now think about a large purchase like a car. If a $10,000 car is sold 10 or 12 times, there will be more paid in sales tax than the car is worth. Go figure>?

Fiat_Lux
14847
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/14/13 - 10:50 am
7
0
As goes the nation, so goes stupid Georgia

Our state legislators are the same kind of rapacious losers as the goons at the federal level are. They are beyond stupid if they think they can keep gouging and stealing from taxpayers who work and live non-dependent lives to pay for the stupid waste they keep trying to foist upon us.

Take care of the roads, deal with criminals, support public education at the post-secondary level, get rid of all the dead-wood freeloaders drawing a state paycheck and beyond that, leave us the heck alone. We can handle the K-12 education and local impact stuff ourselves, for better or worse.

bubbasauce
20573
Points
bubbasauce 02/14/13 - 11:33 am
6
0
Mooseye, you catching on to

Mooseye, you catching on to this taxing thingy, yes! Now we have only 100 million more people to realize how crooked government is! Legal Gangsters is what my Grandfather always called the Government. He was indeed right!

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 02/14/13 - 12:20 pm
1
1
This helps us

I think they are trying to eliminate the double taxes when you buy a car. If I buy a car in March I pay for the tag. I have to pay again on my birthday that same year. They are trying to change that.

americafirst
958
Points
americafirst 02/14/13 - 01:33 pm
1
0
Okay. I am confused. What is

Okay. I am confused. What is the "new system" if you bought a car from a dealer in 2012?

Fiat_Lux
14847
Points
Fiat_Lux 02/14/13 - 03:12 pm
4
0
No Augusta Resident,

that's not all it's about. They are trying to recoup a sales tax from private sales, which is something we haven't had to deal with up to now.

It's nothing more than another strong-arm tactic by the government to steal more of what you earn and spend it on themselves, on their pet pig projects or on people who prefer to use the local ER as their primary care provider but pay nothing themselves for anything.

B4lite
5
Points
B4lite 02/14/13 - 05:12 pm
3
0
Car Tax

I think this (tax on used vehicles you buy from someone) was done before under Governor Miller about 15-20 years ago and I think it went to court and they said it was double taxation and everyone got their money back with interest. I know I got back about $275.

This is hiting below the belt. I think people are hurting know working two jobs to make up for the the one they lost or depeted retirement funds.

You might want to cut back some on those 90% State retirement checks going out. The military only get 50%-75% for 30 years and they earn every penning of it.

Darby
23604
Points
Darby 02/14/13 - 06:41 pm
1
0
"Also, you pay $10 grand for a car, but.....

the state can say it's a $15,000 car? Great."

Help me out... I didn't see that in the article..

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