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Understanding new Georgia car tax

On March 1, Georgia began to switch from the annual “birthday tax” on cars to a new type of car tax.   Any resident buying a car from now on will pay a one-time fee rather than the annual tax paid when registering the car. 

When you buy a vehicle, you’ll pay a one-time 6.5 percent tax.That percentage is scheduled to increase slightly each year.

If you bought a car from January 2012 to February 2013, you can choose whether you want to continue to pay the birthday tax or opt into the new system.

If you bought a car before January 2012, you’re still obligated to pay the birthday tax.The new law applies to all vehicles bought in Georgia, no matter where they are purchased. 

 People who move into Georgia with a car after March 1 will have to pay the new tax on any vehicles entering the state when they register their cars in Georgia. New out-of-state residents will have to pay half the fee up front and will have a year to pay the rest.

Vehicles passed between immediate family members — spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren — will pay a reduced fee of 0.5 percent of the car’s worth to title the vehicle, provided the full one-time title ad valorem tax already has been paid.

People who were exempt from paying the annual car tax, such as disabled veterans, are exempt from the new tax.

Vehicles that are older than 1985, and are not required to have titles, are only affected if the owner decides to get a title after March 1.

Vehicles that aren’t titled, such as boats and trailers, aren’t affected by the new law.

To calculate how much the new tax would cost you, see

Visit your county’s website for options on converting to the new system by fax, mail or phone. It’s free to convert to the new system, if the sales tax and ad valorem taxes you’ve already paid total at least 6.5 percent. If you paid less than that, you’ll have to pay the difference. Vehicles purchased out of state are not eligible to opt-in.

Source: Metro counties, Association County Commissioners of Georgia

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