FILE Cash register sales tax

Georgia collected 4.5 percent more in taxes in January compared with the same time last year, and year-to-date fiscal year collections are up 0.9 percent compared with the previous fiscal year, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue.

Net tax collections for January were nearly $2.36 billion, which is $100.8 million more than January 2019. So far, the state has collected $14.21 billion for fiscal year 2020 – about $133 million more than at this time last year.

Tax collections increased in all tax sections except for title ad valorem tax, which is a one-time tax that is paid at the time a motor vehicle is titled. Collections dropped by 20.1 percent. Legislative changes to the section may have caused the dip.

The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 65, which changed how vehicles purchased or sold on or after Jan. 1 are taxed. The title ad valorem tax rate was lowered to 6.6 percent of the fair market value of the motor vehicle from 7 percent. The cutout year for the 1 percent rate on older vehicles was changed from 1985 to 1989. Taxpayers so far have saved $13.4 million in taxes.

Other vehicle taxes increased, however. Motor-fuel tax collections were 6.3 percent higher, and tag-and-title fees were 19.1 percent higher in January.

Taxpayers also received more in individual tax refunds than last January. The state issued 34.1 percent more in refund checks – or about $18.5 million more.

All other individual tax categories were up by a total of $18.4 million.

Sales and use tax collections increased in January by 4.8 percent when compared with the same time last year. Local governments received $26.3 million more from sales tax distribution.

Sales taxes are slated to increase even more mid-year when new legislation will take effect. House Bill 276, signed by Gov. Brian Kemp late last month, would require ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, lodging websites such as Airbnb and auction sites such as eBay to collect and remit sales tax. The policy will take effect in April. On the contrary, a set of lawmakers have proposed another bill that could exempt ride-sharing companies from the sales tax in exchange for a flat-rate tax.

Online retailers that make at least $250,000 a year in sales – or 200 individual sales – also started collecting sales tax in January. Both legislative changes could lead to hundreds of millions more in tax revenue for the state and local governments.

Corporate income tax collections increased by $11 million, or 28.2 percent, over last year.

Kemp’s office declined to comment.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.