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Tag taxes will ‘shock you to death’

By Sherri Ellington Georgia’s new way of handling vehicle ad valorem taxes is proving to be a headache to drivers, the tax assessors office and even those who get the revenue. At the June 13 Lamar County tax assessors meeting, much of the discussion was taken up with motor vehicle appeals. Seven dealership sales ‘“ all varied greatly from what the state said the vehicles were worth ‘“ were approved at sales price. ’The state Department of Revenue has no idea what’s going on in the real world,’ said assessor John Robinson. ‘The dealership price should be the fair market value.’ In one case the state value was lower than the purchase price and that was a private sale of a damaged vehicle. It was tabled pending more information. Assessors authorized chief appraiser Jeannie Haddock to automatically change fair market values for dealership sales appeals, whether new or used, using the sales price value. Only person-to-person sales will come to assessors in the future. Lance Kershaw, who had asked for a 1999 Harley motorcycle traded for a $500 car be valued at the barter price, agreed to a $1,450 valuation for this year only as he puts the partially disassembled motorcycle back together. ’Even broken down it’s worth more than $500,’ said chairman Claire White. The state had valued the Harley at $2,825 ‘“ in pieces. When he gets his tax statement on the bike for 2014 he is allowed to appeal again, based on how much money he has put into the Harley ‘“ a number he said he is still counting. ’You can thank the state for all this,’ said Kershaw, who did not know he would have to appeal the value annually because the DOR will reset it. ‘They’ve stuck everybody.’ The subject also came up at the Milner city council meeting the day before. City manager Harold Wilson said the DOR is sending in the Local Option Sales Tax, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and the new Title Ad Valorem Tax in a single check. Three checks have been received so far, one for about $700, one right at $2,800 and the third for $10,900. ’We don’t know how to budget for this,’ he said. ‘We don’t have the LOST under LOST or the SPLOST under SPLOST. We just cash it and spend it. So far every county is doing it differently. Hopefully ours is doing it right and we won’t have to pay any money back.’ So far there has been no guidance from the Georgia Municipal Association. ’The new car taxes will shock you to death when you go to pay a tag,’ said councilwoman Betty Wilson, who recently gave a car to a grandson, only to see him pay full ad valorem taxes on its statecalculated value. ’They say you can choose but I’m not so sure,’ said Harold Wilson. ‘People aren’t prepared for that.’

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