Sit in the carpool line at any one of our local schools and it won't be long before you notice them: vehicles with out of state plates. It's the same deal all over town, at the supermarket, the doctor's office, the workplace. My guess is that many of of us know at least one friend or neighbor driving around in a vehicle registered in another state. I want to be clear here, I'm not talking about folks who have moved here recently, I'm talking about those who have resided here for years.
The rules are simple. Move to Georgia and within 30 days, by law, you must register that vehicle in the State of Georgia, including paying the ad valorem tax calculated on the fair market value of the vehicle. So why are so many vehicles being registered in another state? It's quite simply really, it all comes down to money. Register a vehicle in Georgia and as the law stands right now, you will probably be handing over a good chunk of cash each year for that vehicle to remain legal on our roads. Register the vehicle in another state which has no ad valorem and you can see why that route seems a lot more attractive to some. Last year, as a birthday present, I sent a check for over $500 to the DMV for our three vehicles, all of them older models and definitely not in the luxury range. I should have registered them in Washington State, could have saved three hundred bucks. I am guessing it is easy to get away with failing to register in Georgia. In my neighborhood alone there are numerous multi-car households who have been driving on out of state plates for years, for them the savings keep mounting up, especially if they are driving around in a new or high end vehicle.
Once the ad valorem tax goes away the new "Title Tax" comes into effect. This will probably make it less attractive to register a vehicle elsewhere but only if purchasing a new vehicle. The rest of us will continue to pay the ad valorem on the vehicles we currently own until we sell or trade them. So the savings, for some, carry on. The rest of us will continue to foot the bill.
When the State of Arizona set up a hotline for residents to report those who are not in compliance with that State's registration law by they were branded by a local TV station as "snitches" and "tattletales". But wait a minute, why should those people get away with failing to pay their fair share of taxes year after year while law-abiding citizens fork over a big check annually? It would seem that those who uphold the law are the bad guys and the others, well, they're not hurting anyone are they? Perhaps we should just stay out of it, you know, live and let live and all of that?
Maybe I'm just getting grumpier in my old age but quite frankly I feel my hackles rise ever so slightly when I notice a local resident driving around on their New Jersey/Florida/Vermont/anywhere but Georgia plates. Believe me, I am not happy about writing that check each year either but I do it because it is the law. Why should the rest of us contribute monetarily to the improvement of our community while some get to openly flaunt the law and smugly send off their $60 or so each year. I wonder how much revenue we are losing to other states, to make their roads and communities better for their citizens? I also wonder how not having the car legally registered affects insurance coverage? I've lived here for 7 years. I know residents who have driven on illegal plates for that long. I have absolutely no doubt that others can beat that record.
So yes, at the risk of being branded a snitch and a tattletale, I secretly wish that Georgia would set up a program similar to that in Arizona. If you live here, work here , send your kids to school here, then you should pay vehicle taxes that stay here.
It really grips my tailpipe.