My husband and I recently moved to Evans. His job led us to the area. Because his job is in South Carolina, we were persuaded to look at homes in the Aiken/North Augusta area, because of proximity to work and low taxes. We decided, ultimately, that Georgia was a better fit for our family. We liked the community and the schools. We were willing to pay higher property taxes for those amenities.
WE WERE MOST unpleasantly shocked when we went to renew our vehicle tags. We had heard about the changes to the ad valorem tax. We tried to read about it to better understand and were left more confused. Unfortunately, we were left with no choice but to just wing it and get tags. In the previous states we have lived in, our tags were in the range of $150 to $200 yearly, so we expected a somewhat comparable cost.
Boy, were we mistaken! Upon our arrival at the tag agency, the customer service associate explained to us that we would be responsible for 6.5 percent the value of our vehicles. That totaled $650 for a 2004 Toyota 4 Runner and $1,100 for a 2009 Chevrolet pickup. You can imagine our shock when we were being told we owed $1,750 to tag our vehicles. The associate, who could see our utter shock and frustration said, “Well, it’s not too bad, you can pay half now and half in six months.” That didn’t help; we still owed $875 that day!
HOW MANY working-class, average, hard-working families do you know that just have $875 laying around? We don’t. We both work, we have children, we have groceries, a house payment, utilities – I could go on for a long time here. We make a pretty good income, but this was possibly the most ridiculous thing we had ever heard of – $1,750 to tag a vehicle?
I suspect when the law was changed, no one thought about how it would be punishing people moving into the state of Georgia. If you lived here already, you were on the old system until you bought a new car. Once you bought a new car, the ad valorem tax would just be figured into the total cost of the car and figured into the loan. But if you move here, now all of sudden you have to pay an exorbitant amount of tax to tag a vehicle.
I can honestly say if we knew this, we may have considered living in South Carolina just to avoid this ridiculous cost. But we wanted to live in Georgia, and now we are being punished for that decision.
Another issue to consider is that we already paid tax on the vehicles when we purchased them in our respective states. In both Oklahoma and Iowa, you pay an excise tax at the time of purchase. I paid that tax when I bought my car and so did my husband. Essentially, the ad valorem tax is comparable, so now I am being double-taxed, which is illegal.
I STRONGLY URGE the state of Georgia to look into the system and determine whether this is really the best course of action for vehicle tags. I have a suspicion that Georgia is going to have an increase of people driving with expired tags and people going around the system to keep their vehicles tagged in their originating state. Georgia is putting an undue burden on new residents and unfairly punishing everyone who is moving to this state.