Middle Georgians accustomed of reminders to renew their vehicle tags are seeing delays as the vendor that mails them shut down this week.
Tax commissioners throughout Middle Georgia said Wednesday that they’ve been swamped with calls from people in the past several weeks who said they had not received their tag renewal notices. In an email Tuesday, the state Department of Revenue informed commissioners that the vendor, World Marketing, stopped operations after filing bankruptcy, causing the state to scramble to find another company that can print the notices.
Several tax commissioners in the midstate said people can contact their offices if they do not receive the notices within a timely manner. The “pre-bills” usually are sent out 45-60 days before they are due.
October notices should be received by vehicle owners by Thursday, and the Department of Revenue is working to get the November notices sent out as quickly as possible, according to a news release.
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In Macon-Bibb County there are about 8,000 vehicles that will need to be renewed in November.
“We knew there was something that was going on, because we’d get phone calls from taxpayers saying they hadn’t received their renewal notices,” Wade McCord, Bibb County’s tax commissioner, said. “We’ve been in contact with the state, and last night the email confirmed that the company has ceased operations.”
Automobile tags have to be renewed each year by the owner’s birthday in order to avoid additional charges. For businesses, the timeline to renew is based on an alphabetic process.
The delay is a tough situation for taxpayers, and for tax commissioners dealing with a perception that it’s their fault, said Peach County Tax Commissioner W.L. Brown.
Since tax commissioners’ names are on the renewal notices, the public will “naturally think it’s something that we had to do with it,” he said.
Vehicles purchased in Georgia since March 2013 are not subject to annual renewal fees after the owner pays a one-time tax. For others, penalties for not renewing tags on time vary depending on the type of tag. Brown said he may deal with late fees on a case-by-case basis for people with birthdays in early October. Other tax commissioners said not receiving a pre-bill doesn’t exempt people from renewing on time.
“It kind of puts you in bad position to say ‘hey the notice isn’t something we’re mandated to do.’ I don’t really have any other option than charge a late fee, and that’s difficult to swallow and tell people,” said Jones County Tax Commissioner Brian Jackson, who has an Oct. 12 birthday but didn’t get his renewal notice until Monday.
The renewal notices usually provide enough time for any changes to be made. There will be about 11,000 renewals in Houston County in November.
“It’s frustrating for the taxpayer as well as us here, because we like to help the customers,” said Houston County Tax Commissioner Mark Kushinka.
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There are several renewal options, depending on county, available to motor vehicle owners.
In Bibb County, anyone born in November is asked to get in touch with the Tax Commissioner’s Office if they have not received a renewal notice by Oct. 20,
Tax commissioners in Peach, Houston, Monroe and Jones County said to contact their offices if there are questions about payments.
The payments can be mailed in, dropped off at offices or paid online at www.dor.georgia.gov. Residents of some counties may renew via phone, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue.