by: Mike Petchenik Updated:
FULTON COUNTY, Ga. - Changes to Georgia’s so-called birthday tax could mean tighter security at tax offices across the state come March 1.
The Department of Revenue is recommending the added measures over concerns customers will become frustrated over increased wait times as clerks navigate the new law’s requirements, according to the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
“It affects a lot of people,” said Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand. “I think that’s the key word: patience.”
The new law means that anyone who purchases a car after March 1, 2013 will be exempt from the yearly birthday tax, and will pay a one-time title tax, plus a $20 annual registration fee for as long as they own the vehicle. Anyone who purchased a car between Jan. 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013 can opt in to pay the one-time fee and forgo the annual tax.
“You cannot do it over Internet or by phone,” said Ferdinand. “You have to come into the office.”
Ferdinand said simulations of the process have shown it will potentially double the time it takes a clerk to handle the transaction. He said he’s asked Fulton County for permission to hire more workers to handle the influx of people and increased wait times. He said his office is already training current employees on the new law.
“My priority is getting the resources to increase the number of service we have,” he said.
Ferdinand said he’s going to follow the recommendation to beef up security.
“We already have security at the sites, but I think we may need extra for crowd control,” he said.
Customers at the tag office in Sandy Springs told Petchenik they hope the extra security isn’t necessary.
“I understand they’re waiting in case somebody goes crazy in a tag office, but we should all be adults and handle our own tags,” said Bryan Coleman.
The Georgia Department of Revenue has created a calculator where customers can determine what their one-time fee would be if they opted into the new system.