New GA title tax law means higher fees, long lines - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

New GA title tax law means higher fees, long lines

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DALTON, GA (WRCB) - Buy a car in Georgia, and now you can expect long lines and higher fees at the county tag offices thanks to a new title tax law that went into effect March 1.

The one-time tax replaces a sales tax and the annual "birthday tax" that Georgia car owners have been used to paying. When you buy a car, you owe a 6.5% tax up front when you go to register it under Georgia's new Title Ad Valorem Tax.

All hands are on deck at the Whitfield County tax office as workers explain it to lines of car owners.

"It is somewhat complicated," Whitfield County Tax Commissioner Danny Sane said.

If you buy a car at a dealership, you won't see much of a change. You've always had to pay a 6% sales tax. Now, it's 6.5% so that's not where the confusion comes in.

"It's the casual sales. The sales between individuals, coworkers, and Internet sales," Sane said.

With Dalton's unemployment rate the highest in Georgia, Sane worries those car buyers won't be able to afford the tax in one lump sum right away.

"It's hurting the small people really bad and the people who've got money, they don't really care," Travis Barnes said.

Barnes is unemployed and says he just bought a car from an individual because it was all he could afford. He's thankful he dodged the new tax by buying the car less than 24-hours before it went into effect, but his family worries about the others in similar situations.

"If they could walk a mile in our shoes, they'd bring them back," Barnes said.

Sane was involved in passing the old "birthday tax law" and recently addressed the Senate about his concerns with this new law.

"I said this is the problem, this is the problem, this is the problem," Sane said.

He says while it accomplishes the goal of doing away with a yearly tax, it's too much, too soon.

"I really dislike the fact that so many people are caught unaware of this. I wished it could've been phased in a little at a time," Sane said.

Some Channel 3 Facebook friends are on board.

"Actually better in the long run. You won't have to come up with as much money on your birthday,"Daniel Keown wrote.

"If you own the same car for more than five years then you will save money. It's way more up front, but it beats having to pay a tax every year for the life of the car," Danielle Guess wrote.

Before now, in Georgia, if you bought from a individual, you didn't pay a sales tax-- just a $5 tag fee and an $18 title fee. But again, the 6.5% you owe up front replaces the yearly tax.

Georgia lawmakers are discussing revisions to the new title tax law in the current legislative session.

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