Georgia

Collins Announces Candidacy for Congress

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Michael (Mike) Collins (R-Jackson) announced on Thursday his candidacy to seek the Republican nomination for the 10th Congressional Seat of Georgia, currently held by Congressman Paul Broun. Broun will not be seeking re-election to the seat as he will make a bid for the U.S. Senate.

photo copy 12Collins was introduced to a large crowd of local citizens by his father, former Congressman Mac Collins, outside of their longtime family business. Collins Industries/Collins Trucking employs over 82 people and operates 80 trucks and flatbed trailers throughout the Southeast and Midwestern States.

Collins grew up close to the political climate in Georgia. His father Mac served six terms in the US House of Representatives as well as a number of terms in the Georgia Legislature.  He is a native of Butts County, a graduate of Piedmont Academy in Monticello and of Georgia State University. He is an active member of the community and is married to Leigh Ann Collins. They have three children and attend Rock Springs Church in Milner.

Need for Speed Comes to Butts County

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photo 2Butts County is playing host to Hollywood movie producer DreamWorks this evening as filming on the movie “Need for Speed” shoots at a local travel plaza, according to Butts County Administrator and Camera Ready Liaison Michael Brewer.

The major motion picture, based on the popular driving game by Electronic Arts, is about a street racer’s cross-country journey from New York to race on the California coast. According to Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com), “Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross-country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins”.

Filming for the production has taken place in other Georgia locations as well, including Macon, located just thirty minutes south of Butts County. “This is an exciting event for Butts County” said Brewer as setup for the filming was being readied at the Atlanta South Travel Plaza at Interstate 75 and Highway 36. “I was very pleased when DreamWorks contacted me earlier this week looking for staging areas for their equipment. I immediately put them on to Laura Hale with the Development Authority and she went right to work, securing the necessary permissions from the property owners to get them space in the adjacent Riverview Business and Industrial Park for their vehicles and equipment”.

photo 3Brewer noted that this is not the first call his office has received in recent weeks from movie production companies looking at Butts County. “We have a lot to offer here with Jackson Lake, Indian Springs and the Ocmulgee River in the way of scenic beauty and natural environments but the real plus is that all of this is in close proximity to both Atlanta and Macon. This puts us easily within reach of film companies who need both location as well as the support and logistics offered by the larger cities close by” he said. He also added that “Need for Speed is a favored video game among driving enthusiasts everywhere, myself included. I can’t wait to see how it translates to the big screen when it comes out next year”.

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Atlanta South Travel Plaza owner Bob Ryan in front of his transformed “Nebraska Travel Center”

Butts County Development Authority Director Laura Hale added that “Georgia is number 2 in the film industry among states in the US. It has a huge impact on the state’s economy and we’re glad that Hollywood has come to Jackson. I also appreciate local business owners like Bob Ryan, the owner of Atlanta South,  for making their locations available to them when they come calling”.

Butts County Commission Chairman Gator Hodges has been an advocate for promoting tourism and economic development in Butts County since taking office in 2009. “I want people to know we are here and that we welcome them to see what we have to offer. Movie and television productions filmed here can only enhance our efforts to promote tourism, stimulate development and enhance the quality of life for Butts County citizens”.  he stated.

The State of Georgia has strategically positioned itself in recent years to take advantage of all that Hollywood has to offer, including the availability of tax incentives for movie companies, the creation of a state film office and the creation of the Camera Ready Program which certifies counties who have completed a list of requirements as “Camera Ready” communities. Each Camera Ready community has a film liaison appointed by the local government to serve as a point of contact for the county and to help movie and television production studios with finding locations and securing local services, all of which make the job easier for the studios.

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Atlanta South Travel Plaza will depicted as a travel plaza in Nebraska, along the route of the race

The movie is expected to be released in theaters next Spring.

Article by Michael Brewer
Photographs by Laura Hale

2013 Legislative Session-Final Report

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Butts County GA (2)Georgia lawmakers adjourned the 2013 legislative session at midnight on Thursday, March 28th. Over the past three months, legislators have addressed major issues ranging from ethics to juvenile justice reform to tax reform. Many of these issues will have a direct impact on county operations. Butts County and all of the other Georgia counties worked in concert with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia to help shape the legislation that would directly effect counties and the local taxpayers. I am especially grateful to our three state legislators who went to Atlanta this year for working with Butts County and others to minimize adverse impact on the County and maximize benefit to the County wherever possible. My thanks to State Representative Andy Welch (Locust Grove), State Representative Susan Holmes (Monticello) and certainly to our own State Senator from Butts County, Burt Jones. Below is the wrap up of bills that were of direct concern to Butts County and where they stood at “Sine Die” or the end of the 2013 session. Not every bill that went through the legislature is listed. Only those with direct impact on citizens and local government are included.

Sincerely,

J. Michael Brewer, County Administrator
County Legislative Coordinator, ACCG

Economic Development & Transportation

HB 318 Georgia Tourism Development Act
(Rep. Ron Stephens, 164th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation changes the procedures of the Georgia Tourism Development Act and the necessary agreements that provide sales tax exemptions for certain projects. This legislation was amended to now include the option for local governments to offer the tourism tax exemption by resolution in the jurisdiction where a tourism project exists.

HB 384 Motorized Cart Signage Clarification
(Rep. Jay Roberts, 155th)
Effective July 1, 2013 – This legislation requires counties that allow the use of motorized carts on public streets to post signs that are at least 24 inches by 30 inches on every state highway that intersects with the county’s and cities’ boundaries to warn other drivers that motorized carts are permitted on public roads. Any ordinance by the county regulating motorized carts will not be effective until the signs are posted.

HB 393 Georgia Workforce Investment Board
(Rep. Mark Hamilton, 24th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation sets the procedure for establishing local workforce investment boards. It also makes counties, cities and regional commissions the fiscal agent/grant recipient for certain funds.

SB 137 Authorizes Commissioner of Economic Development to Designate Opportunity Zones
(Sen. Rick Jeffares, 17th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation authorizes the Commissioner of Economic Development to designate areas as opportunity zones except for areas where one or more census tracts adjacent to a federal military installation where pervasive poverty is evidenced by a 15% poverty rate or greater as reflected in the most recent decennial census.

SB 218 Emergency Tow Permits
(Sen. Steve Gooch, 51st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation increases the weight limit for annual commercial wrecker emergency tow permits.

General County Government

HB 71 ACCG and GMA Retirement; Increase Authorized Investment in Real Estate
(Rep. Lynne Riley, 50th)
Effective July 1, 2013- Currently, retirement programs such as those offered by ACCG and GMA may only invest 5 percent of their holdings in real estate investments. This legislation increases the amount of permissible investment to 10 percent.

HB 124 Sunday Sales
(Rep. Brett Harrell, 106th)
Effective July 1, 2013- Under this legislation, if the voters do not approve a ballot measure for Sunday sales of beer, wine and liquor by the package, it will not impact a previous vote to approve a ballot measure for Sunday sales of beer and wine only.

HB 142 Expand Lobbyist Definition
(Rep. David Ralston, 7th)
Effective January 1, 2014- This legislation provides for changes relating to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (formerly known as the Ethics Commission) as well as the definition of a lobbyist and expenditures.

HB 143 Changes and Eliminates Certain Filing Requirements for County Offices
(Rep. David Ralston, 7th)
Effective January 1, 2014- This legislation changes the manner in which candidates for local office file their campaign and finance disclosure statements. For a more detailed summary see Appendix C.

HB 160 Revises Vacant and Foreclosed Real Property Registry Requirements
(Rep. Mike Jacobs, 80th)
Effective July 1, 2013 Section 2- This legislation revises the vacant and foreclosed property law enacted in 2012 by removing the limitation that only properties that have received a land use disturbance permit can be included on the foreclosed real property registry. It also clarifies that certain foreclosed properties are not subject to
registration if the deed is filed with the clerk of superior court within 60 days of the foreclosure sale or transfer of the deed in lieu of foreclosure.

HB 361 Federal Labor Laws – Cannot Require Local Governments to Waive Them
(Rep. Edward Lindsey, 54th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation prohibits the state, cities and counties from passing ordinances or requirements in contracts, permits, licenses or zoning, that would require an employer or employee to waive rights provided by the National Labor Relations Act. For instance, a county could not require a potential contractor or vendor to accept terms to a collective bargaining agreement with its employees in order to enter into a contract with the county.

HB 487 Coin Operated Amusement Machines – Regulating
(Matt Ramsey, 72nd)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation moves the regulation of coin operated machines from the Department of Revenue to the Georgia Lottery Corporation. It allows the county to prohibit more than six Class B coin operated amusement machines that reward the player exclusively with non-cash merchandise, prizes, toys, gift certificates, etc. Under the old law, counties could only prohibit more than nine Class B machines. This legislation also allows the county to require an annual audit of the verified monthly reports that location owners and operators must prepare showing the gross receipts from the Class B machines, gross retail receipts for the business location and the net receipts of the Class B machines.

HB 517 Authorizing Sale of Beer and Wine within 100 Yards of College Campus
(Rep. Chuck Williams, 119th)
Effective July 1, 2013 – Current law prohibits the sale of package beer and wine within 100 yards of a college campus. This bill allows cities and counties, via local ordinance, to allow for the sale of package beer and wine within that 100-yard distance so long as the store has at least 85 percent of its floor space dedicated to the sale of food and other nonalcoholic items, and conducts all of its sales within the store (i.e., no gas pumps outside).

SB 11 Reauthorize the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council
(Sen. Buddy Carter, 1st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation reauthorizes the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council to audit Georgia’s geospatial capabilities at the county, regional and state level.

SB 83 Authorizes the Use of Cremation for County Funded Burials of Paupers
(Sen. Steve Gooch, 51st)
Effective July 1, 2013 – Under current law, counties are required to provide for the decent interment of indigents who pass away within their jurisdiction, as is the Department of Corrections for inmates in their care. This legislation simply clarifies that decent interment allows for cremation.

SB 104 Comprehensive Planning Revisions – Streamlining Requirements
(Sen. Frank Ginn, 47th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation results from a two- year stakeholder process whereby ACCG, GMA and others partnered on the Department of Community Affairs’ Planning Rules Task force to revise Georgia’s comprehensive planning requirements on local governments. While, to the credit of DCA, most of the task force’s recommendations have been achieved via its rulemaking process, three changes in statute were necessary. This legislation covers these necessary changes by:
- making housing, human services, natural resources, vital areas, historic and cultural resources, infrastructure, recreation and other components of a comprehensive plan optional to the local government;
- not requiring Regional Commissions (RC) to issue a public finding on whether a development of regional impact is in the best interest of the region or state; and
-changing deadlines on when a local government must adopt a comprehensive plan and submit it to their RC.

SB 160 Illegal Immigration Reform to Create Regulatory Efficiencies
(Sen. Frank Ginn, 47th)
Effective July 1, 2013- SB 160 is the major illegal immigration reform legislation passed this session and contains ACCG’s top legislative priorities of allowing for secure and verifiable documents to be submitted by mail; allowing legal U.S. residents to renew their public benefits without having to annually submit those documents; and consolidating three county reporting requirements into one annual report due to one agency.

SB 168 Public Works Bids – More Mandates for Counties in Process
(Sen. Lindsey Tippins, 37th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation prohibits counties and cities, in awarding public works contracts, from disqualifying responsible bidders based on lack of previous experience with a job of the size for which the bid proposal is being sought if:
- the bid or proposal is 30 percent greater in scope or cost from the responsible bidder’s previous experience;
- the responsible bidder has experience in performing the work; and
- the responsible bidder is capable of being bonded by a surety which meets the qualifications of the bid documents for a bid or performance bond.

SB 179 Public Bids – Penalties, Incentives and Bid Bonds
(Sen. Hunter Hill, 6th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation allows counties to include provisions in construction contracts over $100,000 to require the contractor to pay a penalty if the project is delayed. It also allows the contract to include an incentive for contractors to complete the contract early when the project needs to be completed as soon as possible. When a county issues a request for proposal for a construction project over $100,000 and price is not one of the evaluation factors, this legislation allows the county to choose whether to have a bid bond or not. If the county requires a bid bond, the request for proposal must specify the dollar amount of the bid bond. This legislation also corrects a technical error in the law regarding notice of commencement required to be filed by the contractor. Local governments cannot require or prohibit bidders to enter into union or collective bargaining agreements.

SB 226 Coroners – Streamlining Salary Requirements in Law
(Sen. Steve Gooch, 51st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation corrects contradictory laws regarding coroners’ salaries. It clarifies that coroners in counties with a population of less than 35,000 are entitled to receive the state minimum salary plus the death investigation fee. Coroners in a county with a population of 35,000 or more are entitled to the salary established in local legislation or the death investigation fee. If the death investigation fee is more than the local legislation salary, the coroner may choose to receive the death investigation fee. The coroner must give commissioners notice of the decision to receive the death investigation fee in writing no later than October 1, in order to become effective on January 1st of any given year.

Health and Human Services

HB 101 Food Sales and Service Establishment Standards – Local Festivals, etc.
(Rep. Bubber Epps, 144th)
Effective July 1, 2013- Under current law, festivals, fairs and events held by nonprofit organizations are not considered “food service establishments” subject to regulation by the department of health when the county issues a temporary permit to the nonprofit for food sales and service. This legislation allows the county to delegate the authority to issue such permits to the county board of health.

HB 205 Psychiatric Advance Directive Act
(Rep. Edward Lindsey, 54th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation establishes a method for adults to prepare a psychiatric advance direction to express their mental health care treatment preferences in advance, as well as to authorize an agent to make mental health care decisions on his or her behalf. It provides immunity from liability to law enforcement officers who follow an advance directive.

HB 284 Return to Play Act/Recreation Departments
(Rep. Jimmy Pruett, 149th)
Effective January 1, 2014- This legislation requires counties that provide public recreation facilities that organize youth athletic activities for which a participation fee is charged to provide an information sheet to all coaches, officials, youth athletes and their parents and guardians informing them of the nature and risk of concussions and head injuries. The parents and guardians must sign an acknowledgment that they received the fact sheet. This bill purports to provide no liability to counties with public recreation facilities that comply with the requirements of this proposed law.

HR 502 Joint Study Committee on Mental Health and School Violence
(Rep. Kevin Tanner, 9th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation creates a Joint Study Committee on Mental Health and School Violence.

SB 24 Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act
(Sen. Charlie Bethel, 54th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation delegates the authority to levy the Medicaid assessment fee on hospitals to the Department of Community Health. The assessment of the fee on hospitals allows the state to draw down twice the amount collected in additional Medicaid funds resulting in a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate paid to the hospitals. The legislation dedicates the fees to Medicaid and the act will sunset in 2016.

SB 216 Medical Directors of Emergency Services Providers May Contract With More Than One Pharmacy
(Sen. Buddy Carter, 1st)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation allows the medical director of an emergency medical service provider to contract with more than one pharmacy to provide supplies.

Natural Resources and Environment

HB 189 DNR to Give Counties Notice of Park Closings
(Rep. Debbie Buckner, 137th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation requires the Department of Natural Resources to provide at least a 60-day notice to a county or city before the State closes a park or recreation area, decreases its operating hours or services by 50 percent or more, or permanently changes a primary operational function within the local’s jurisdiction. This is simply to give notice, providing the county some time to decide whether it wants to assume any responsibilities in operating the park or recreation area.

HB 226 Revising Used/Scrap Tire Transportation Storage and Disposal Laws
(Rep. Randy Nix, 69th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation adds several definitions to aid in EPD’s enforcement of organics management and the hauling and storage of scrap tires. The bill defines compost and composting as an aerobic process and defines and limits who can transport used and scrap tires, not new tires. It authorizes, but does not require, local law and code enforcement agencies to enforce Georgia’s used/scrap tire laws and limits the amount of scrap tires that can be stored by tire retailers, tire retreaders, salvage yards and the general public. Local governments would be exempted from the tire hauling registration and quantity restrictions.

HB 276 Hazardous Waste Trust Fund – Fixing the Redirection of Fees
(Rep. Chad Nimmer, 178th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation renews the fees that make up the Hazardous Waste Trust Fund (hazardous waste transporting, disposal, and the state’s 75-cent-per-ton solid waste tipping fees, among others) for five years, from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2018. Since 2004, over 60 percent of these fees have been redirected to the state’s general fund, not going toward their statutorily dedicated purpose of cleaning up hazardous sites, including old county landfills.

The House amended the bill with a fee-reduction mechanism to fix the redirection of HWTF and Solid Waste Trust Fund fees. If fees for these two trust funds are not appropriated for their designated purposes, then the fees will be proportionately reduced the following year.
Addressing the redirection of these fees was one of the Counties of Georgia’s policy priorities this legislative session.

HB 320 Inert Landfills – Exempt from DNR Rule
(Rep. Buddy Harden, 148th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This year, the Board of Natural Resources adopted rules taking inert landfills out of the “permit-by-rule” category and now requires them to obtain a solid waste handling permit which entails additional, substantive regulations and costs. This bill exempts from that new rule any inert landfill, public or private, which as of January 1, 2014 has been certified by a professional engineer as being in full compliance with all permit-by-rule requirements as they previously existed before the DNR rule change.

HB 402 Shore Protection and Coastal Marshlands Protection Acts – Revisions
(Rep. Ron Stephens, 164th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation provides a variance procedure under the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act to allow for temporary activities within protected areas (i.e., television and movie sets/filming).

Public Safety and Courts

HB 55 Wiretapping by Law Enforcement – Statewide Application
(Rep. Rich Golick, 40th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation clarifies the existing statute regarding wiretapping and trace devices to specify that warrants issued to district attorneys or the Attorney General to use trace devices or intercept communications shall have statewide application and shall be permitted in any location of the state.

HB 59 Require Alarm Monitoring Services to Utilize Alarm Verification
(Rep. Tom Taylor, 79th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation requires alarm companies to attempt to verify alarm calls by calling or texting the property owner up to two times before sending the alarm signal to public safety for response. The alarm companies would not be required to verify the alarm calls for fire alarms, panic alarms, robbery in progress alarms or alarms where the alarm company can tell from the audio or video that a crime is occurring.

HB 78 Mandatory Reporting of Elder and Disabled Adults Abuse – Criminal Penalties
(Rep. Wendell Willard, 51st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation requires coroners, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and first responders to report suspected abuse of elders and disabled adults. Provides for criminal penalties for abuse of elders and disabled adults.

HB 141 Requirement to Post Notice Regarding Human Trafficking – Mandated Notices
(Rep. Edward Lindsey, 54th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation requires bars, massage parlors, truck stops, rest areas, airports, hotels, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, job recruitment centers, farm labor contractors and day haulers to post notices on a form developed by the Department of Safety regarding a hot line for victims of kidnapping, slavery and human trafficking. Law enforcement is required to notify any of the businesses who fail to post the required sign in writing that failure to correct the deficiency within 30 days is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. The legislation purports to exempt the costs of prosecution from taxes and additional penalties, fees or surcharges.

HB 146 Issuance of Arrest and Search Warrants by Video Conference
(Rep. Tom Weldon, 3rd)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation allows a judge to participate in a hearing for an arrest or search warrant by video conference, regardless of the judge’s location at the time of the conference.

HB 161 Required Oath for Baliffs
(Rep. Alex Atwood, 179th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation changes the oath that bailiffs must take, which would allow them to give jurors water only to drink. The oath also requires the bailiffs to swear that they will not allow jurors to have books, papers or electronic communication devices.

HB 182 Eliminate Rehearing on Decision of Associate Juvenile Court Judge by Juvenile Judge
(Rep. Tom Weldon, 3rd)
Effective July 1, 2013 Part I and effective January 1, 2014 Part II- This legislation allows an associate juvenile court judge to be appointed as judge pro tempore of the juvenile court in cases where the juvenile court judge cannot sit. Additionally, it removes the provision where orders of the associate juvenile court can be re-heard by the juvenile court judge when one of the parties appeals.

HB 187 Local Ordinances Creating Commercial Drug Free Zones
(Rep. Pam Dickerson, 113th)
Effective July 1, 2013- Counties may designate certain commercial areas (including up to a half-mile of contiguous residential property) with a high rate of drug related crimes as “drug-free commercial zones.” A copy of the ordinance must be filed with the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), with a map and report. This legislation would extend this felony designation to a drug crime occurring within a drug-free commercial zone adopted by a county and entered into DCA’s registry on or before July 1, 2013.

HB 238 Georgia Firefighters’ Pension Fund
(Rep. Howard Maxwell, 17th)
Effective July 1, 2013- The substitute to this legislation increases the amount of dues a firefighter or a volunteer firefighter must pay to be in the Georgia Firefighters’ Pension from $15.00 per month to $25.00 per month. The legislation states that the responsibility for payments into the fund lies with the firefighter.

HB 242 Juvenile Justice Reform/Juvenile Code Rewrite
(Rep. Wendell Willard, 51st)
Effective January 1, 2014- This legislation is a combination of some of the provisions from the Juvenile Code Rewrite and the recommendations from the Criminal
Justice Reform Council in regards to juvenile justice. The bill restructures the juvenile code to improve the process for practitioners and judges. For a more detailed summary see Appendix G.

HB 349 Adult Criminal Justice Reform Clean Up Bill
(Rep. Rich Golick, 40th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation creates the Council on Criminal Justice Reform to continue to assess the impact of the Criminal Justice Reform Act. This legislation also provides for judges to deviate from mandatory minimums by following a procedure as outlined in the legislation and revises the process for removal of arrest records.

HB 366 Certified Peace Officers Training/Application Requirements
(Rep. Bill Hitchens, 161st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation provides for the emergency suspension of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification when an officer fails to complete or show certification of required training.

SB 66 Increase Penalties for Contempt of Court in Superior and State Courts
(Sen. Jesse Stone, 23rd)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation increases the fine for contempt of court in State and Superior Court from $500 to $1,000 and/or 20 days of imprisonment. This bill also changes the requirements for filing a claim and answer in magistrate court.

SB 96 Part-time Solicitor General – Prohibition of Representing Criminal Defendants In Court
(Sen. Jeff Mullis, 53rd)
Effective July 1, 2013- Under current law, part-time solicitors may practice law, but may not practice in their state court. This legislation only prohibits solicitors from representing defendants in criminal matters in their state court.

SB 120 Creation of Prosecutor Position for Probate Court Upon Approval of BOC
(Sen. John Crosby, 13th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation is a permissive bill that will allow counties to create a prosecutor position for probate courts which handle traffic.

SB 136 Creation of Hunting and Boating Under the Influence Offenses – Require Boater Education
(Sen. Butch Miller, 49th)
Effective May 15, 2013- This legislation creates criminal offenses for boating and hunting under the influence of alcohol. Persons convicted of hunting while under the influence will pay a fine, and have their hunting license suspended. Person convicted of boating under the influence will suffer the same sanctions as those driving under the influence. The legislation also requires anyone operating a watercraft to complete a boater education course certified by the Department of Public Safety.

SB 225 Bonds – Relive Surety From Liability Under Some Circumstances in Criminal Cases
(Sen. Jesse Stone, 23rd)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation relieves surety (bail bondsman) from liability if a principal is unable to attend court due to a mental or physical disability or receiving inpatient treatment.

SR 247 Creation of Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee
(Sen. Joshua McKoon 29th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation creates the Senate Expungement Reform Study Committee to examine the process for clearing an individual’s record when he or she has been wrongfully accused or convicted of a crime.

Revenue and Finance

HB 164 Sales Tax Exemption on Aircraft Maintenance
(Rep. Alex Atwood, 179th)
Effective July 1, 2013– This bill extends the sunset for two year on the sales tax exemption for engines, parts, or equipment used in the maintenance and repair of aircraft registered out of state.

HB 193 Extend Sales Tax Exemption for Certain Non- profits
(Rep. Ron Stephens, 164th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This bill reinstates the sales tax exemption for several charitable purposes. These include exemptions for food purchased by qualified food banks, food donated for disaster relief, purchases by certain nonprofit health clinics and purchases by Goodwill Industries Inc. The restored exemptions will sunset in two years.

HB 197 Changes to Forest Land Conservation Use Program
(Rep. Jay Powell, 171st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation makes changes related to property in a Forest Land Protection Covenant (FLPA), the Department of Revenue Performance Review Boards and the interest owed on taxes due after an appeal is settled.

HB 250 Energy Excise Tax Revisions
(Rep. Tom Rice, 95th)
Effective upon signature of the Governor- This legislation makes administrative changes to the implementation, collection and distribution of the energy excise tax

HB 266 Changes to the Process for Taxing Motor Vehicles
(Rep. Allen Peake, 141st)
Effective March 5, 2013- This legislation makes several changes to the new system for taxing motor vehicles. For a more detailed summary see Appendix K.

HB 304 Apply Freeport to Fertilizer Production Processes
(Rep. Tom McCall, 33rd)
Effective January 1, 2014- This bill extends the level 1 freeport to now include the blending of fertilizer bulk materials into a custom mixture whether performed at commercial fertilizer blending plant, retail outlet, or any application site. This extension will apply to all existing level 1 freeport exemptions.

HB 454 Tax Expenditure Review Requirements in Budget Report for State Government
(Rep. Chuck Martin, 49th)
Effective July 1, 2013- This legislation requires additional information to be included in the state budget report regarding tax expenditures. When possible, the tax expenditure report will include a description of the objective of the tax expenditure, information that shows whether the tax expenditure is meeting it’s intended purpose, an analysis of the tax expenditure’s effect in the administration of the tax system and an analysis of the people, companies or other entities that directly benefit from the tax expenditure.

HB 463 Tax Commissioner Discretion on Used Vehicle Values and New Process for Taxing IRP Trucks
(Rep. Tom Rice, 95th)
Effective January 1, 2014 Section 1-3; Effective upon signature of the Governor Section 4- This legislation allows the tax commissioner some discretion when valuing a used vehicle that sells for less than the value in the Department of Revenue Assessment Manual. Upon the request of the vehicle owner and supporting documentation, the tax commissioner could consider mileage, condition, the bill of sale and values from a reputable pricing guide to determine a value that more closely reflects the current condition of the vehicle. This discretion may help address the taxpayers concerns with the DOR value and prevent the owner from making an appeal to the Board of Assessors.

This legislation changes the way interstate commercial trucks that register under the International Registration Program (IRP) are taxed by the local governments. Currently they are required to pay a proration of the ad valorem taxes due based upon the percent of total miles driven in Georgia. Under the new system they will pay a local alternative ad valorem tax based upon a proration of miles driven in Georgia to the Department of Revenue (DOR). The DOR will then distribute the local revenues back to the counties, schools and cities based upon their pro rata share of total ad valorem taxes collected statewide. The industry estimates that the new system will increase local revenues from $9 million to just under $17 million per year. IRP truck owners will also be authorized to pay the local ad valorem taxes due on their trailers to DOR or the county. Any local trailer taxes collected by DOR will be distributed back to the local governments where the trailers are domiciled.

HB 473 Option to Renew Multi-Year Agreements with Fiscal Year
(Rep. Andrew Welch, 110th)
Effective July 1, 2013 – Under current law, counties can only enter into multi-year agreements if they automatically terminate at the end of each calendar year (unless renewed). This legislation allows the contracts to terminate either at the end of each calendar year or at the end of the county’s fiscal year unless renewed.

SB 145 Additional Permitted Uses of Conservation Use Covenant (CUVA) Property
(Sen. Bill Heath, 31st)
Effective July 1, 2013- This bill would permit farm weddings and not for profit equestrian performance events on property in a Conservation Use Covenant without violating the terms of the covenant. The property must have been enrolled in the covenant for at least one year.

Bills the Failed to Pass

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & TRANSPORTATION
HB 186- Revise Income Tax Credits for Business in Less Developed Areas HB 196- GDOT; Prior Notice to Municipalities of Tree Removal
HB 367- Reduce Distance for Outdoor Advertising Near Public Park
HB 395- Georgia New Markets Jobs Act; enact
HB 455- Redevelopment Powers Law; Add to Definition HB 370- State Income Tax; Elimination of Tier Classification HB 486- Commercial Wrecker Emergency Tow Permits
HB 495- Conveyance of State Property; modify
HB 501- Remove Trees in Right of Way Near Interstates
SB 73- Removes T-SPLOST Match Penalty
SB 90- Reporting of Public-Private Partnership Alternatives for Transit SB 228- Area of Operation of a Development Authority

GENERAL COUNTY GOVERNMENT
HB 44- Passport Application Fees as Clerks’ Personal Compensation
HB 91- Local Governments Restricted in Moving Monuments
HB 127- Redirected Fees – Having Fees Appropriated for Designated Purposes
HB 176- Cell Towers/Equipment – Preemptions and Conditions on Local Government Approval Process HB 228- Use of Government Property for Lobby Purposes
HB 282- Limit Local Governments From Providing Broadband Services
HB 409- Animal Control – No Local Requirement to Spay or Neuter
HB 436- Elections; Residency Requirements for Local Public Officers
HB 474- Preemption of County and City Historic Preservation Ordinances
HB 490- Require County Library Employees Work At Least 30 Hours Per Week To Be Eligible for Health Insurance
HB 504- Failure to Wear a Seat Belt as Contributory Negligence
HB 512- Guns – Allow in Courthouses and Government Buildings
HB 659- Prohibit Use of Public Funds to Influence Voters
SB 4- Allow for Nonpartisan Clerks of Superior Court Elections
SB 5- Allow for Nonpartisan elections for District Attorneys
SB 6- Allow for Nonpartisan Sheriff Races
SB 7- Allow for Nonpartisan County Commission Races
SB 8- Allow for Nonpartisan Tax Commissioner Races
SB 9- Allow for Nonpartisan Solicitors-General Elections
SB 44- Allow for Election Day Voter Registration
SB 45- Changes the Time Period for Advance Voting
SB 50- Expand Advance Voting Period
SB 54- Allow for Nonpartisan Election of Coroners
SB 55- Allow Local Nonpartisan Elections
SB 95- Nonpartisan Elections for County CEO
SB 101- Guns – Omnibus Bill for 2013
SB 117- Call Before You Dig Revisions
SB 125- Liability of Land Owners for Trespassers Against Harm

HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
SB 13- Mandatory Reporting to Licensing Board For Nurses Convicted of Certain Criminal Offenses NATURAL RESOURCES & ENVIRONMENT
HB 41- Water Rates to Outside Customers
HB 199- Expand GEFA’s Reservoir Fund for Leak Detection and Conservation
HB 225- General Assembly must First Approve All EPD Rules
HB 549- Water Pollution Spills – Counties to Assist in Public Notice
HB 595- Eliminate Local Government’s Ability to File a Tax Lien for Delinquent Garbage Bills SB 176- Hazardous Sites – Revisions to Voluntary Remediation Program
SB 210- Georgia Legacy Program
SB 213- Flint River Drought Protection Act – Revise

PUBLIC SAFETY & THE COURTS
HB 1- Georgia Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act
HB 88- Free Class E and Class F Driver’s License to Qualified Volunteer Firefighters
HB 113- Purge Convictions of Minors for DUI Under Limited Circumstances
HB 215- Filings in the Clerk of Superior Court Office/Office Hours
HB 392- Release of Unclaimed Cash Bonds To Local Governing Authority After One Year
HB 411- Creation of Detention Facility Commissary Fee – Requirements for Use
HB 438- Increase in Filing Fee on Court Cases to Fund Alternative Dispute Resolution
HB 449- Non Disclosure Of Victim Calls To 9-1-1
HB 460- Prohibit Inmate Firefighters From Participating in Georgia Firefighter’s Pension Fund
SB 23- Aid in Location of Missing Persons Incapacitated Due to Medical Conditions
SB 135- Required DNA Collection on Every Person Arrested For A Felony
SB 144- Creation of Georgia Emergency 911 Support Authority
SB 186- Authorization of Ambulance Personnel to Transport Certain Mentally Ill Patients
SB 229- Authorize County to Adopt Ordinance Allowing Sale of Consumer Fireworks
SR 378- Sale of Fireworks by Local Ordinance – Tax to Fund Firefighters Training and Trauma Care

REVENUE & FINANCE
HB 42- Partial Sales Tax Exemption on Manufactured Homes
HB 153- Authorization to Impose a Fractional SPLOST
HB 159- Prohibit All Fees and Assessments on the Property Tax Bill
HB 173- Maintenance and Repair Eligible for SPLOST
HB 295- Property Tax Administration and Appeals
HB 307- Sales Tax Refunds on Private Label Credit Card Bad Debt
HB 418- Require Department of Revenue to Share More Revenue Collection Data with Local Governments HB 660- Itemize Governmental Affairs Costs on the Property Tax Bill
HB 678- Telecommunications Tax Reform
HB 691- Roll-back Local Option Sales Tax
HR 1034- Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) Distribution
SB 99- Authorize Fractional SPLOST
SR 277- Local Option Sales Tax Distribution Reform
SR 412- Limitations on Sales Tax Rate Increases

Important Notice about Vehicle Taxes

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There has been much confusion over the new Title Ad Valorem Tax that the State of Georgia has imposed on the counties and that goes into effect March 1st. Some of the news media stations in Atlanta have spun the story in such a way as to make people think that if they don’t go to the Tag Office on Friday, March 1st, that they somehow will be left out of being able to take advantage of the few benefits the new system offers.

First, if you purchased your vehicle any time before January 1st, 2012, nothing will change at all. You will still receive your tax bill prior to your birthday and will need to pay all ad valorem taxes by the date of your birthday.

Second, if you purchased your vehicle any time between January 1st, 2012 and February 28th, 2013, nothing will change unless you choose to opt in to the new system. If you do not, you will continue to receive your annual tax bill, payable by your birthday each year. For more about the opt-in program, see the article below this section. For some, opting in will make sense and for others, it will not. It depends on the value of you vehicle.

Third, if you buy a new car on or after March 1, 2013, the state will automatically enroll you in the new system. You will pay 6.5% of the appraised value of the car to the dealer at the time you purchase it. Each year thereafter, you will only be required to pay your annual tag fees at or just before your birthday each year.

So what am I supposed to do on March 1st, 2013?  The answer is nothing. Wait until you receive your tax notice from the Tax Commissioner’s Office. If your birthday is in March, you should have received your tax bill in February. If it is in November, should receive it in October and if you then want to enroll in the new system, that is the time to go to the Tax Commissioner’s Office. You have until December 31st, 2013 to enroll, IF you are eligible (new car bought between January 1, 2012 and February 28, 2013).

The misconception that everyone needs to go to the Tag Office on March 1st will only accomplish one thing: adding a lot of unnecessary confusion and long waits to the process. The only people that need to come to the tag office on March 1st are people whose birthday is March 1st and who need to pay their ad valorem taxes that day or who have other related business.

The article below provides a much more detailed explanation about TAVT and how it affects you.

Understanding TAVT (Title Ad Valorem Tax)

TagThe State of Georgia Legislature (House of Representatives and State Senate) passed into law a new format for the taxation of motor vehicles that takes effect March 1, 2013. This new tax will affect everyone sooner or later and it is important that Butts County citizens understand fully what will be required in the future.

Beginning March 1, 2013, state and local sales tax will no longer apply to the purchase of a motor vehicle. In addition, all vehicles purchased or transferred into ownership after this date will no longer be subject to the annual ad valorem tax (also known as the “birthday tax”). Instead, these vehicles will be subject to a new, one-time state and local title ad valorem tax (TAVT) that is paid at the time owner registers the vehicle and applies for the title with the county.

The new system for taxing vehicles will only apply to a vehicle when the ownership of the vehicle is transferred through a title exchange on or after March 1, 2013. All other vehicle owners will continue to operate under the current system and pay the annual ad valorem taxes. There is one exception for any vehicles purchased between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013. Owners of these vehicles are eligible to opt-in to the new system.

To convert to the new system for free, the owner must prove that the taxes (sales and property) already paid exceed what the owner would have paid in TAVT. If the amount of taxes paid is less than the TAVT owed, the owner can pay the remaining difference and convert to the new system. This one time option to convert must be exercised by the vehicle owner before December 31, 2013 at their county tax commissioner’s office. Again, this optional “opt-in” only applies to those who purchased a vehicle between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013.

The TAVT is collected by the county tax commissioner before a new title is issued and the vehicle is registered. The new TAVT is calculated at a rate of 6.5% of the vehicle’s value as defined by the Department of Revenue’s motor vehicle ad valorem assessment manual. When there is no value available in the assessment manual, the bill of sale or a reputable used car market guide determines the value. The trade-in value of another motor vehicle will be deducted from the value to get the taxable value. If an owner believes the value is too high for the condition of their vehicle, they may appeal the value to the County Board of Tax Assessors.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the tax rate will increase to 6.75% and beginning January 1, 2015, the tax rate increases to 7% and remains at that rate unless defined revenue targets in the law are not met, at which time the rate could adjust up to a maximum of 9%. This means, basically, that if the new system doesn’t bring in what the state feels is needed in revenues, they can increase the tax rate up to 9% to make up the difference.

Following are several other components of the new system:

  • Vehicle owners will continue to pay annual ad valorem tax on their current vehicle until the vehicle is sold or the title is transferred.
  • Vehicle purchases through a private sale (non-dealer sale) that were previously exempt from sales tax will now be subject to the TAVT. This means if you transfer a vehicle you own to another person, either through a private sale or gift, the person who obtains ownership of the vehicle will have to pay the tax due on the value of the vehicle in order to obtain a title to the vehicle. There are exceptions (listed below).
  • Vehicles transferred from another state to Georgia will be subject to the TAVT in two installment payments, in addition to the title and registration fees that they were responsible for in the past.
  • Leased vehicles will still be subject to a use tax on the monthly lease payment. The dealership is responsible for paying the title ad valorem tax and may include this cost in the term of the lease.
  • Vehicle titles transferred between family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, will be handled as follows:
  1. Vehicles owned prior to March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle has the option to pay the full title ad valorem tax or continue to pay the annual ad valorem tax under the old system.
  2. Vehicles purchased on or after March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle is subject to a 0.5% title ad valorem tax.
  • Title applications must be processed in the county where the vehicle is to be registered
  • Salvage vehicles and vehicles donated to charities will pay a reduced TAVT rate of 1%.
  • Certain veterans who were exempt from annual motor vehicle ad valorem tax will also be exempt from the TAVT.

Questions & Answers on the New Georgia Title Ad Valorem Tax

Why is the system for paying my annual vehicle ad valorem taxes changing?

Legislation enacted by the Georgia General Assembly in 2012 created a new system for taxing motor vehicles registered in Georgia. As a result, the annual vehicle ad valorem tax (sometimes called the “birthday tax”) is being changed to a state and local title ad valorem tax, or TAVT.

How does it work?

Beginning March 1, 2013, state and local sales tax will no longer apply to the purchase of a motor vehicle (except for the 1% transportation tax on the first $5,000 of any vehicle sale in regions that have this tax). All vehicles purchased or transferred into ownership after this date will no longer be subject to the annual ad valorem tax. Instead, these vehicles will be subject to a new, one-time state and local title ad valorem tax (TAVT) that is paid at the time the owner registers the vehicle and applies for the title with the county.

The new system for taxing vehicles will only apply to a vehicle when the ownership of the vehicle is transferred through a title exchange. All other vehicle owners will continue to operate under the current system and pay the annual ad valorem taxes until they no longer own the vehicle.

Does the title ad valorem tax (TAVT) apply to all vehicles or just vehicles purchased through new car dealers?

All vehicles that are purchased on or after March 1, 2013, are subject to the TAVT, regardless of where the vehicle is purchased. Vehicles purchased through a private sale (non-dealer sale) that were previously exempt from sales tax will now be subject to the TAVT.

Are there any exceptions?

There is one exception for any vehicles purchased between January 1, 2012, and March 1, 2013. Owners of these vehicles are eligible to opt-in to the new system. To convert to the new system for free, the owner must prove that the taxes (sales and property) already paid exceed what the owner would have paid through the TAVT. If the amount of taxes paid is less than the TAVT owed, the owner can pay the remaining difference and convert to the new system. This one time option to convert must be exercised by the vehicle owner before December 31, 2013, at their county tax commissioner’s office. Vehicles purchased out-of-state are not eligible to opt- in.

What about tag renewal fees, decals and emission tests?

The law requiring tag renewal fees, decals and emission tests did not change. Therefore, vehicle owners are still responsible for meeting these annual requirements.

Do vehicle owners have to pay the title ad valorem tax when a vehicle title is transferred to a family member?

Vehicle titles transferred between family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, will be handled as follows:

  • Vehicles owned prior to March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle has the option to pay the full title ad valorem tax or continue to pay the annual ad valorem tax under the old system.
  • Vehicles purchased on or after March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle is subject to a 0.5% title ad valorem tax.

How does this new system impact vehicles that are leased?

Leased vehicles will still be subject to a sales tax on the monthly lease payment. The dealership is responsible for paying the title ad valorem tax and may include this cost in the term of the lease.

How does this new system apply to veterans?

Certain veterans who were exempt from annual motor vehicle ad valorem tax will also be exempt from the TAVT.

What about vehicles that are older than 1985?

Vehicles that are older than 1985 and are not required to have titles are only affected by the new system if the owner decides to get a title after March 1, 2013.

Since this tax applies when the vehicle is titled, how does it apply to people who move in to Georgia from another state?

Vehicles transferred from another state to Georgia will be subject to the TAVT in two installment payments. In addition, the owners will still have to pay the title and registration fees that they were responsible for in the past.

Where will vehicle title applications be processed?

Title applications must be processed in the county where the vehicle is to be registered. In other words, if the vehicle is to be registered in Butts County, title applications will be processed at the Butts County Tax Commissioner’s Office

Who collects the title ad valorem tax (TAVT)?

The TAVT is collected by the county tax commissioner before a new title is issued and the vehicle is registered. The new TAVT is calculated at a rate of 6.5% of the vehicle’s value, not the sales price, as defined by the Department of Revenue’s motor vehicle ad valorem assessment manual. When there is no value available in the assessment manual, the bill of sale or a reputable used car market guide determines the value. The trade-in value of another motor vehicle will be deducted from the value to get the taxable value.

What if I think that the title ad valorem tax assigned to my vehicle is too high?

If an owner believes the value is too high for the condition of their vehicle, they may appeal the value to the County Board of Tax Assessors.

Will the title ad valorem tax always be set at 6.5%?

No. Beginning January 1, 2014, the tax rate will increase to 6.75%. It will increase to 7% on January 1, 2015. It will remain at that rate unless defined revenue targets in the law are not met,at which time the rate could adjust up to a maximum of 9%.

Will the title ad valorem tax apply when a vehicle is salvaged or donated to charity?

Salvage vehicles and vehicles donated to charities will pay a reduced TAVT rate of 1%.

The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) provides answers to additional questions on the title ad valorem tax on its website: http://onlinemvd.dor.ga.gov/Tap/faqs.aspx. In addition, DOR has developed a calculator to estimate the amount of title ad valorem tax due on a vehicle which is available here: http://onlinemvd.dor.ga.gov/TAP/Welcome.aspx.

You can also call the Butts County Tax Commissioner’s Office at 770-775-8206 for more information.

New Georgia Vehicle Tax Takes Effect March 1st

Posted on Updated on

TagThe State of Georgia Legislature (House of Representatives and State Senate) passed into law a new format for the taxation of motor vehicles that takes effect March 1, 2013. This new tax will affect everyone sooner or later and it is important that Butts County citizens understand fully what will be required in the future.

Beginning March 1, 2013, state and local sales tax will no longer apply to the purchase of a motor vehicle. In addition, all vehicles purchased or transferred into ownership after this date will no longer be subject to the annual ad valorem tax (also known as the “birthday tax”). Instead, these vehicles will be subject to a new, one-time state and local title ad valorem tax (TAVT) that is paid at the time owner registers the vehicle and applies for the title with the county.

The new system for taxing vehicles will only apply to a vehicle when the ownership of the vehicle is transferred through a title exchange on or after March 1, 2013. All other vehicle owners will continue to operate under the current system and pay the annual ad valorem taxes. There is one exception for any vehicles purchased between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013. Owners of these vehicles are eligible to opt-in to the new system.

To convert to the new system for free, the owner must prove that the taxes (sales and property) already paid exceed what the owner would have paid in TAVT. If the amount of taxes paid is less than the TAVT owed, the owner can pay the remaining difference and convert to the new system. This one time option to convert must be exercised by the vehicle owner before December 31, 2013 at their county tax commissioner’s office. Again, this optional “opt-in” only applies to those who purchased a vehicle between January 1, 2012 and March 1, 2013.

The TAVT is collected by the county tax commissioner before a new title is issued and the vehicle is registered. The new TAVT is calculated at a rate of 6.5% of the vehicle’s value as defined by the Department of Revenue’s motor vehicle ad valorem assessment manual. When there is no value available in the assessment manual, the bill of sale or a reputable used car market guide determines the value. The trade-in value of another motor vehicle will be deducted from the value to get the taxable value. If an owner believes the value is too high for the condition of their vehicle, they may appeal the value to the County Board of Tax Assessors.

Beginning January 1, 2014, the tax rate will increase to 6.75% and beginning January 1, 2015, the tax rate increases to 7% and remains at that rate unless defined revenue targets in the law are not met, at which time the rate could adjust up to a maximum of 9%. This means, basically, that if the new system doesn’t bring in what the state feels is needed in revenues, they can increase the tax rate up to 9% to make up the difference.

Following are several other components of the new system:

  • Vehicle owners will continue to pay annual ad valorem tax on their current vehicle until the vehicle is sold or the title is transferred.
  • Vehicle purchases through a private sale (non-dealer sale) that were previously exempt from sales tax will now be subject to the TAVT. This means if you transfer a vehicle you own to another person, either through a private sale or gift, the person who obtains ownership of the vehicle will have to pay the tax due on the value of the vehicle in order to obtain a title to the vehicle. There are exceptions (listed below).
  • Vehicles transferred from another state to Georgia will be subject to the TAVT in two installment payments, in addition to the title and registration fees that they were responsible for in the past.
  • Leased vehicles will still be subject to a use tax on the monthly lease payment. The dealership is responsible for paying the title ad valorem tax and may include this cost in the term of the lease.
  • Vehicle titles transferred between family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, will be handled as follows:
  1. Vehicles owned prior to March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle has the option to pay the full title ad valorem tax or continue to pay the annual ad valorem tax under the old system.
  2. Vehicles purchased on or after March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle is subject to a 0.5% title ad valorem tax.
  • Title applications must be processed in the county where the vehicle is to be registered
  • Salvage vehicles and vehicles donated to charities will pay a reduced TAVT rate of 1%.
  • Certain veterans who were exempt from annual motor vehicle ad valorem tax will also be exempt from the TAVT.

Questions & Answers on the New Georgia Title Ad Valorem Tax

Why is the system for paying my annual vehicle ad valorem taxes changing?

Legislation enacted by the Georgia General Assembly in 2012 created a new system for taxing motor vehicles registered in Georgia. As a result, the annual vehicle ad valorem tax (sometimes called the “birthday tax”) is being changed to a state and local title ad valorem tax, or TAVT.

How does it work?

Beginning March 1, 2013, state and local sales tax will no longer apply to the purchase of a motor vehicle (except for the 1% transportation tax on the first $5,000 of any vehicle sale in regions that have this tax). All vehicles purchased or transferred into ownership after this date will no longer be subject to the annual ad valorem tax. Instead, these vehicles will be subject to a new, one-time state and local title ad valorem tax (TAVT) that is paid at the time the owner registers the vehicle and applies for the title with the county.

The new system for taxing vehicles will only apply to a vehicle when the ownership of the vehicle is transferred through a title exchange. All other vehicle owners will continue to operate under the current system and pay the annual ad valorem taxes until they no longer own the vehicle.

Does the title ad valorem tax (TAVT) apply to all vehicles or just vehicles purchased through new car dealers?

All vehicles that are purchased on or after March 1, 2013, are subject to the TAVT, regardless of where the vehicle is purchased. Vehicles purchased through a private sale (non-dealer sale) that were previously exempt from sales tax will now be subject to the TAVT.

Are there any exceptions?

There is one exception for any vehicles purchased between January 1, 2012, and March 1, 2013. Owners of these vehicles are eligible to opt-in to the new system. To convert to the new system for free, the owner must prove that the taxes (sales and property) already paid exceed what the owner would have paid through the TAVT. If the amount of taxes paid is less than the TAVT owed, the owner can pay the remaining difference and convert to the new system. This one time option to convert must be exercised by the vehicle owner before December 31, 2013, at their county tax commissioner’s office. Vehicles purchased out-of-state are not eligible to opt- in.

What about tag renewal fees, decals and emission tests?

The law requiring tag renewal fees, decals and emission tests did not change. Therefore, vehicle owners are still responsible for meeting these annual requirements.

Do vehicle owners have to pay the title ad valorem tax when a vehicle title is transferred to a family member?

Vehicle titles transferred between family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren, will be handled as follows:

  • Vehicles owned prior to March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle has the option to pay the full title ad valorem tax or continue to pay the annual ad valorem tax under the old system.
  • Vehicles purchased on or after March 1, 2013: The family member who is titling the vehicle is subject to a 0.5% title ad valorem tax.

How does this new system impact vehicles that are leased?

Leased vehicles will still be subject to a sales tax on the monthly lease payment. The dealership is responsible for paying the title ad valorem tax and may include this cost in the term of the lease.

How does this new system apply to veterans?

Certain veterans who were exempt from annual motor vehicle ad valorem tax will also be exempt from the TAVT.

What about vehicles that are older than 1985?

Vehicles that are older than 1985 and are not required to have titles are only affected by the new system if the owner decides to get a title after March 1, 2013.

Since this tax applies when the vehicle is titled, how does it apply to people who move in to Georgia from another state?

Vehicles transferred from another state to Georgia will be subject to the TAVT in two installment payments. In addition, the owners will still have to pay the title and registration fees that they were responsible for in the past.

Where will vehicle title applications be processed?

Title applications must be processed in the county where the vehicle is to be registered. In other words, if the vehicle is to be registered in Butts County, title applications will be processed at the Butts County Tax Commissioner’s Office

Who collects the title ad valorem tax (TAVT)?

The TAVT is collected by the county tax commissioner before a new title is issued and the vehicle is registered. The new TAVT is calculated at a rate of 6.5% of the vehicle’s value, not the sales price, as defined by the Department of Revenue’s motor vehicle ad valorem assessment manual. When there is no value available in the assessment manual, the bill of sale or a reputable used car market guide determines the value. The trade-in value of another motor vehicle will be deducted from the value to get the taxable value.

What if I think that the title ad valorem tax assigned to my vehicle is too high?

If an owner believes the value is too high for the condition of their vehicle, they may appeal the value to the County Board of Tax Assessors.

Will the title ad valorem tax always be set at 6.5%?

No. Beginning January 1, 2014, the tax rate will increase to 6.75%. It will increase to 7% on January 1, 2015. It will remain at that rate unless defined revenue targets in the law are not met,at which time the rate could adjust up to a maximum of 9%.

Will the title ad valorem tax apply when a vehicle is salvaged or donated to charity?

Salvage vehicles and vehicles donated to charities will pay a reduced TAVT rate of 1%.

The Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) provides answers to additional questions on the title ad valorem tax on its website: http://onlinemvd.dor.ga.gov/Tap/faqs.aspx. In addition, DOR has developed a calculator to estimate the amount of title ad valorem tax due on a vehicle which is available here: http://onlinemvd.dor.ga.gov/TAP/Welcome.aspx.

You can also call the Butts County Tax Commissioner’s Office at 770-775-8206 for more information.