by: Richard Elliot Updated:ATLANTA —
Metro Atlanta tax commissioners joined forces Monday to urge the half a million car owners eligible to opt-in to the new title tax program to not do so all at once.
"My message to taxpayers is patience, patience, patience," said DeKalb County Tax Commissioner Claudia Lawson.
Lawson joined tax commissioners in Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties in asking people who bought cars between January 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013 not to rush metro Atlanta tag offices all at once on March 1.
Beginning in March, the state will switch over from the yearly ad valorem or birthday tax to a one-time title tax. Owners who bought their vehicles before 2012 will still have to pay ad valorem. Those who buy a vehicle after March 1 will pay the title tax, probably through a dealer. But those in between can choose either method.
Fulton County Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand said he has 156,000 car owners who fit into that category, and he worries a lot of them will rush down to pay the one-time fee all on March 1. Gwinnett County estimates it has 217,000 while Cobb and DeKalb believe they have well over 100,000 each.
"The key word is patience, patience because the time it takes to title a vehicle is going to double," said Ferdinand at a joint news conference outside his downtown Atlanta offices.
The state Legislature made the switchover law last year. In 2013, the title tax will be 6.5 percent of the blue book value of the car. Next year, it goes up to 6.7 percent. It goes up to 7 percent in 2015.
Tax commissioners are asking drivers wishing to pay the one-time fee not to rush into their offices all at once. They are encouraging people to seek alternate methods to pay the fee, either by mail or by phone or fax. Vehicle owners can find more information at the Georgia Department of Revenue web site at www.dor.ga.gov. It also has a downloadable affidavit needed to complete the transaction.
One of the major changes that could confuse many people is the new person to person sales provision. In the past, private sales were not subject to sales tax. Now, they are subject to the title tax. Ferdinand and the other commissioners think that change alone could slow down the entire switchover.
Georgia is holding training seminars for tag office employees to try and get them up to speed.
Cobb County Motor Vehicles Division Director Sharon Dorsey said they've been training their employees every morning to ready them for any potential scenarios.
"I think we're as prepared as we can be," said Dorsey.