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New state laws affect taxes, roads
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The start of 2011 will usher in several new state laws.


Here’s a roundup of some of the most significant legislation that made it into Georgia’s books over the past year and takes effect this month.



Property tax


Act 670; SB 346: “This Act comprehensively revises provisions regarding ad valorem taxation of property.”


This law makes several changes to the property tax system. Among the highlights:


Property purchased in 2010 for less value than the county assessment on record will be taxed on the lower purchase price. Counties will not be able to raise the taxable value if it was purchased at a higher price than the assessment on record. For example, if someone purchases a $400,000 house for $150,000, he can only be taxed on $150,000.


Also beginning in 2011, all property owners will receive an assessment, whether the value of their property has changed or not. People will be able to apply for tax exemptions (with the exception of the Conservation Use exemption) year round. Those applied for by April 1 will be included in the current year’s tax statement.


Property owners will now have 45 days to appeal the assessed value of their property, up from the current 30 day appeal period.



Transportation tax


Act 554; HB 227: “This Act enacts the Transportation Investment Act of 2010.”


This law allows voters within regional commissions throughout Georgia to decide whether to add a 1-cent sales tax to pay for transportation and transit improvements.


Each regional commission must have a regional transportation roundtable, including a county and city representative from each county in the region. The county representative is that county’s top elected official and the city representative is a mayor as selected by other mayors in the county.


Dawson County is a member of the 13-county Georgia Mountains Regional Commission.


In order to put the tax on the 2012 ballot, the roundtable must decide on a final project list by Oct. 15.


If voters within the district approve the tax, the state would begin distributing proceeds in 2013, with 75 percent of the money dedicated to regional projects and 25 percent going to governments for local road projects.



Sales and use tax


Act 507; HB 1221: “This tax provides for the comprehensive revision of sales and use tax provisions for streamlined sales tax purposes.”


The aim of this law is to make Georgia’s definition of a commodity or product the same as other states for the purpose of defining if it’s taxable or not.


The law was created to clarify Georgia’s sales and use tax code, said House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal, who co-signed the bill.


“This is part of an interstate initiative where fiscal representatives from all of the states have been meeting for about a 10-year period of time to bring some conformity into states that have sales taxation to where people doing business on an interstate basis can be immune from penalty and liability in the future,” O’Neal said. “The whole bill is set to clarify specifically what the obligations are.”


There are no new taxes in the law.


DCN regional staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.