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New mandatory car tax starts March 1

7:24 PM, Feb 18, 2013   |    comments
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The title ad valorem tax will replace the annual ad valorem tax on vehicle purchases after March 1st.

ATLANTA -- In an unusual step, tax commissioners from Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties held a joint press conference Monday to clarify a controversial new car tax that becomes mandatory on March 1.

Before getting your title, you'll have to shell out cash to pay a one-time title ad valorem tax.

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If you purchased your vehicle before March 1 (but after January 1, 2012) you can opt into the new system with a one-time set percentage payment or you can stick with the yearly ad valorem the state now charges.

But that choice will soon go away.

Starting March 1, you will pay 6.5% on the value of the vehicle. Next year it goes up to 6.7%.

Motorists new to Georgia will have to ante up the 6.5% ad valorem for every car they bring into the State.

For buyers in a private sale, the 6.5% tax will be due on the book value of the vehicle, not on what the buyer pays.

For new vehicle buyers, it won't be double billing.

The amount paid in sales tax will be deducted from the 6.5% and the buyer will just pay the difference.

For motor vehicle owners who have the choice until March 1, there is an online calculator to figure out whether it's best to stay with the current ad valorem or to opt-in the new system.

"I just have to sit with the salesman and try to figure out what the best deal is, but right now it sounds like ad valorem when you pay less every year," said Stephanie McDonnough, about to purchase a new pickup.

As March 1 rolls closer, County tax offices are gearing up with special staff training sessions and briefings.

But they are urging car owners to take a deep breath.

"Patience, patience, patience. The system we are getting will not be in effect until March 1. We will open with a new system that we have not seen live and our staff has not seen live," said Claudia Lawson, Tax Commissioner of DeKalb County.

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