House Bill 386, passed by the 2012 Georgia General Assembly, goes into effect Friday. It authorizes a one-time title tax of 6.5 percent this year, rising to 6.75 percent next year and 7 percent in 2015.
But lines may become longer at the Carroll County tag office as clerks have to explain the options under the new law to tag buyers.
The biggest slowdown will likely come with people who purchased cars between Jan. 1, 2012, through Feb. 28 of this year. They will have the option to pay either the 6.5 percent title tax or stay with the annual ad valorem tax. They have until Dec. 31 to visit the county tag office and decide if they want to opt-in on the title tax option.
Car owners, who purchased their vehicles before Jan. 1, 2012, will continue to pay the ad valorem tax on the vehicles they currently own and all tag buyers will pay the $20 annual tag fee. They will continue to get a tax deduction on the ad valorem tax, but the new title tax does not qualify for deductions.
Carroll County Tax Commissioner Vickie Bearden warns that buyers of used cars in private sales may suffer “sticker shock” when they learn they owe a large, one-time title fee on the sale.
“After March 1, they’ll have to bring their bill of sale and pay a 6.5 percent title tax,” Bearden said. “If they don’t have enough money, they’ll have to come back when they have the money.”
For example, she said if a car buyer pays $5,000 in a private purchase of a used vehicle, the buyer will face a $325 title fee. Under the old law, these buyers paid only an $18 application fee and $20 tag fee when they registered the vehicle.
People who move into Georgia with a car after Friday will have to pay the new title tax on the market value of any vehicles when they register the cars in Georgia. New out-of-state residents can pay half the fee up front and the remainder in the next 12 months.
Families who pass vehicles between immediate family members — spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren — will pay a reduced fee of 0.5 percent of the car’s worth, provided the full, one-time title tax has already been paid.
People who were exempt from paying the old ad valorem tax, such as disabled veterans, will also be exempt from the new tax.
Owners will continue to pay ad valorem on vehicles that aren’t titled, such as boats and trailers.