As of Thursday, February 28, 2013
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Gwinnett Daily Post
You may notice a longer line if you visit your local tag office today, which marks the beginning of the state's new title tax. Starting March 1, a new law charges a one-time title tax (6.5 percent this year) on any vehicle purchased (new or used) instead of a yearly ad valorem charge, commonly referred to as the "birthday tax."
Despite a campaign by Gwinnett Tax Commissioner Richard Steele to familiarize county residents with the new law, he expects there to continue to be some confusion (and longer lines as a consequence) as people get used to it. While the title tax can be rolled into the loan on a new or used car, the new law may cause the most consternation among people who buy a used car directly from a friend or neighbor not realizing they will then have to pay an additional charge of 6.5 percent to legally operate the vehicle.
"We feel like there will be a lot of people not prepared to pay that 6.5 percent," Steel said, adding "(I think) we'll see a lot more use of credit cards in the tag office."
The key, Steele said, is knowing your options before you get to the window at the tag office. While people purchasing vehicles March 1 or after have no choice on the title tax, those who purchased vehicles between Jan. 1 of 2012 and Feb. 28 of this year can either pay ad valorem or opt in to the title tax, receiving credit for sales tax already paid. A title tax calculator found at www.GwinnettTaxCommisioner.com can help determine which way makes more financial sense for you.
Owners of older vehicles will continue to pay ad valorem and everyone will pay an annual tag fee of $20, but those buying cars today and after (and even those moving to Georgia from another state) need to be prepared for the title tax, and for the possibility of long lines that may accompany trying to pay it.