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New auto tax could hamper Bartow school system budget
by Monica Burge
February 26, 2013 03:33 PM | 2322 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new tax set to go into effect March 1 changes the tax paid on new and used automobiles in Georgia and could potentially affect the Bartow County School System’s budget.

House Bill 386 was passed during the last session of the Georgia General Assembly and Bartow County Schools Chief Financial Officer Todd Hooper said it will be an adjustment.

“House Bill 386 relates to the way ad valorem taxes are collected on automobiles,” Hooper said.

Hooper said he General Assembly passed the measure as a part of its attempt to overhaul of the state’s tax system.

Hooper said the change will affect the school system’s budget in the years ahead.

“It will make the budgeting somewhat difficult,” Hooper said during the school board’s work session this month. “Our SPLOST [Special Local Option Sales Tax] will be affected by this.

According to Bartow County Tax Commissioner Steve Stewart, the bill is still a tag fee that applies all vehicles bought after the implement date next month, new or used.

It is one time fee that is paid at the time of purchase.

A “tag fee” also still is charged on the birthday of the owner of the car, Stewart said.

“That will also be done on our birthday like it is now,” Stewart said.

The new tax is based on a formula that factors in the fair market value of the vehicle and a 6.5 percent rate.

Stewart said the change will be “problematic” for “casual” sales because that market also will be affected by the tax.

Casual sales are between private owners and not dealers.

“Any time the title changes hands they’re going to be paying 6.5 percent,” Stewart said.

There are some exemptions, which include transfer of title to an immediate family member, such as a spouse, sibling, or grandparent and some veterans.

Stewart said the collection of the new tax will affect payouts to the school system.

“I do see all of our SPLOST taking a pretty good hit,” Stewart said.

Hooper said the bill is still being refined as the March implementation date draws near.

“There are a lot of things that are going to happen with this bill,” Hooper said. “It’s an ever-changing situation.”
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