Remember that referendum Columbus voters passed in March? The one that renewed for another five years (or until $192,185,000 is collected) the 1 percent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that expired Dec. 31 and helps the Muscogee County School District pay for capital projects?
Yeah, that referendum.
Well, that SPLOST will go into effect next week. So as of July 1, the total sales tax in Columbus will increase from 7 percent to 8 percent, as it was from 2010 through the end of 2014.
Did you enjoy the 1 percent reprieve the past six months? Did you make any big purchases because of the lower tax rate?
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We hope you didn’t include automobiles in that wish list because they have been exempt from sales taxes since March 1, 2013, when Georgia’s new method of taxing motor vehicles went into effect, requiring new owners to instead pay a one-time ad valorem tax, 6.5 percent of its value, when the car is titled.
So how do Columbus retailers know they will need to increase the sales tax they charge? Chatter Central tried to find out.
James Robinson of the Muscogee County Tax Commissioner’s Office referred us to the Columbus Consolidated Government’s finance department, where senior accountant Angelica Alexander said it’s up to the Georgia Department of Revenue. Department spokesman Nick Genesi said the state notifies local retailers through email listservs and also relies on word of mouth — which includes Chatter.
“If a retailer charges the incorrect tax, you can maybe remind them,” Genesi said. “Usually it’s the opposite, when a SPLOST expires, and citizens get charged too much. But we ask citizens to be aware. That money goes back to the local economy. We have a voluntary compliance tax structure, and we want to make sure people are voluntarily compliant.”