Moultrie Observer

Local News

February 27, 2013

New vehicle tax law takes effect Friday

MOULTRIE — Auto owners who purchased cars in prior to today do not have to rush to the tax commissioner’s office to avoid a new tax that applies to private sales as well as cars purchased at dealerships.

Those who made their purchases after Jan. 1, 2012, and before Friday can make a choice on whether to pay the new one-time tax or continue paying the annual auto ad valorem tax.

Many residents may be confused, thinking that they must come to the tax commissioner’s office prior to the end of the week in order to avoid the 6.5 percent tax, Colquitt County Tax Commissioner Cindy Harvin said.

“They don’t have to come in Friday,” she said.

Those people who purchased cars prior to Friday can wait until the normal time for registration renewal, at which time they can make a choice of whether to pay the new higher tax once or continue to pay a lower amount each year, Harvin said.

Those who choose the one-time tax payment won’t have to make annual tax payments on vehicles, but will not get out of an annual trip to the office to purchase a $20 decal.

The Georgia Department of Revenue has a tax calculator that will allow auto owners faced with that choice to determine which option makes most sense. That calculator can be accessed at

For example, an individual who purchased a car last year that is valued at $1,000 by the state at the time of purchasing a tag would owe $65 under the new title ad valorem tax. Annual ad valorem taxes would be less than that amount, so a person planning to only keep that vehicle a year or two would likely come out better by choosing the latter.

Those in the choice category also have until the end of the year to opt into the new system, even if they chose the annual tax option earlier in the year. So someone who decides in December that he will hold onto a car longer than anticipated can pay the 6.5 percent at that time, and the payment amount from earlier will apply to that total.

The law passed last year making the changes leaves all cars purchased before Jan. 1, 2012, under the old annual tax system, while those purchased after today automatically will fall under the one-time title tax. That tax will increase to 6.75 percent next year, to 7 percent in 2015 and could rise to as high as 9 percent in later years.

Another major change is that those who make private purchases after today will have to pay the new tax. In the past those purchases were not taxed.

Harvin said that the state has warned tax commissioners that implementation of the new tax may cause some friction for those unfamiliar with it. It also will lead to longer lines as the office has to take down more information than in the past.

Also, many people in the option category will ask at the window for a comparison of payment amounts between the new and old systems, which will cause delays, she said.


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