GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.
Gwinnett County officials believe changes to Georgia's car tag tax will create a surge in appeals. The county is paying an outside company to process those appeals.
The new "ad valorem" law now requires drivers to pay a one-time fee when they transfer a title. The fee is based on the state-assessed value.
Steve Pruitt, the county's chief appraiser, believes that will result in more car buyers disputing the state's assessment of the value of their car.
"We anticipate several thousand will do that,” Pruitt told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh.
Car buyers have to pay a 6.5 percent fee based on that value.
"That value assumes average mileage, average condition, no repairs, no wear-and-tear,” Pruitt said.
"How are you really going to assess a car behind a computer?" asked car salesman Ricky Pittman.
Pittman is in the business of valuing cars. He does it every day at AR Motorsports in Lawrenceville. He believes a state-generated car value wouldn’t take into consideration all of the necessary elements.
"They don't know what the car looks like, if it's been crashed, banged, beat up, got good tires, the motor's falling apart, the transmission is coming apart," he said.
Plus, the new law now taxes person-to-person car sales. That creates a whole new group of potential filers of appeals. The county expects as many as 5,000 appeals in 2013. In 2012, Pruitt said, the office processed around 120.
"No, I did not have someone on staff that could handle that," Pruitt said.
The county has decided to outsource the appeals. It will pay an outside company $38 per finalized appeal, up to $175,000 per year.
Pruitt said to file an appeal, the state requires car buyers first pay the fee in full. Then, one can appeal for a refund. County officials said because of that, they want to process appeals as quickly as possible.