As Georgia House Bill 386 kicked in on Friday, March 1, changing auto
tag tax rules, Dade County Sheriff’s Deputy Japi Lynch was on hand at
the Dade Tax Commissioner’s to quell unrest. But both Lynch and Deputy Tax Commissioner Angie Galloway reported that March came in like a lamb. February, though, was unusually brisk as Dade taxpayers
made their purchases before the law changed.
By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
motor vehicle tax rules kicked in on Friday and the Dade County Tax
Commissioner’s office was clearly ready to catch grief about it.
“Due to House
Bill 386, you may experience longer wait times when you come into the office,”
read a sign on the door. “Please be patient, because our staff is doing all
they can with limited resources.”
And just inside
the tax office, Deputy John “Japi” Lynch was on guard, deployed from the Dade
County Sheriff’s Department to keep the peace.
“It’s not for
protests,” assured Deputy Tax Commissioner Angie Galloway. “It’s just so that
somebody don’t get nasty ugly. That does happen in here from time to time.”
But on Friday,
both the deputy commissioner and the sheriff’s deputy agreed that nobody had
degenerated to the nasty-ugly stage, though Ms. Galloway indicated a few
taxpayers might have been achieved a minor miff level. “We’ve had three or four
customers that have had to pay a fee, and some of them have had to leave and go
and get money and come back,” she reported.
traffic had been low and no voices had been raised, said Ms. Galloway. As for
Deputy Lynch, he opined that on the whole, guarding the tax office had been
minimally less eventful than his usual gig, manning the security checkpoint at
the Dade courts building.
peaceful so far,” said Lynch, sitting behind a table armed with hunting
magazines against the slow times.
tax law eliminates the yearly ad valorem “birthday” tax on cars in favor of a
one-time “title” tax, and is forecast to save auto owners money if they hold on
to their cars for a number of years.
But it also
charges the title tax on the fair market value rather than sales price, if FMV
is higher, of used cars that change hands in casual sales, which is something
new. And tax offices across the state have steeled themselves for the reality
that if taxpayers hate anything worse than taxes, it’s change of any kind.
“The last two
weeks, we’ve done I think three times the amount of titles, so I think that
most people that were aware of it got in here before today’s date,” said Ms.
Galloway. “If you had come in yesterday, they were lined up to the Coke
machine. Most everybody that knew about the law got in here to get their
She said many
taxpayers seemed to have actually made their car purchases in February to avoid
falling under the new rules by waiting for March. “A lot of people, I think,
were getting tax refunds and buying with that,” she said. “But we had a much heavier month in titles
for February. It set a record.”
said the tax office did not forecast requiring the services of a sheriff’s
deputy routinely in the future, though it may request extra security from time
to time during expected peak periods.