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Time ticking for car owners to opt out of birthday tax

TAVT is one-time payment that may be covered by sales tax already paid

POSTED: February 23, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Georgia residents who bought a car in 2012 or early 2013 have until the end of the week to opt out of the birthday tax and into a new one-time title tax.

The Title Ad Valorem Tax replaces the annual ad valorem tax, often referred to as the birthday tax, and it may not cost vehicle owners anything to switch.

The TAVT took effect March 1, 2013, so those purchasing cars, whether at a dealership or from a private owner, now pay a percentage of the vehicle’s fair market value or purchase price, whichever is the higher amount, and then do not pay an annual tax.

Fair market value is determined by the Georgia Motor Vehicle Assessment Manual. All vehicle owners are still required to purchase a $20 renewal tag decal.

Those who purchased cars in 2012 or January-February 2013 can opt into the new system. There is no fee to do so, but the TAVT due is calculated based on the taxes already paid on the vehicle.

Hall County Tax Commissioner Darla Eden said residents need to bring their bill of sale showing the sales tax paid when they come to the county tax office so the amount can be compared to the charge of the TAVT. The transaction can also be done by emailing or faxing the bill of sale, avoiding a visit to the office.

“If the sales tax paid is equal to or greater than TAVT, no additional tax would be due, but if TAVT is greater than the sales tax paid, our residents can choose to pay the additional one-time fee in order to opt in or remain in the traditional (birthday tax) system,” Eden said. “After Friday, Feb. 28, whichever tag renewal system our residents are in, they will remain in unless they purchase another vehicle.”

Having to pay to make the transfer to TAVT doesn’t happen often, but it could, Eden said. A title tax calculator can be found online at tax.hallcounty.org.

The tax started at 6.5 percent when it was introduced March 1, rose to 6.75 percent this year and will rise to 7 percent in 2015.

Vehicles purchased after Feb. 28, 2013, automatically fall under the new system. Cars that were purchased prior to Jan. 1, 2012, were not affected by this new tax, and owners will continue to pay the ad valorem tax.

Eden said the tax office worked ahead to avoid the last-minute rush by encouraging residents to opt in at the time their birthday tax would be due.

“We’ve also been very proactive in sending any ad valorem checks back that we get unintentionally and erroneously where the taxpayer didn’t know,” Eden said. “We’ll send their checks back with a nice letter and (news) release indicating that they are eligible to opt in.”

The tax office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville. Eden said the office is usually busiest around lunchtime and on Mondays and Fridays.


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