What Are the Sales Taxes When Buying a Car in Georgia?

Car sales tax revenue helps support education, transportation systems and other special purposes.

The state of Georgia has one of the most complicated car sales tax structures of any U.S. state. This is why the Georgia Department of Revenue and other websites offer calculator tools for residents trying to get a sense of how much they will owe in vehicle taxes.


Georgia Sales Tax Basics

Georgia has a 4 percent sales tax rate on all general merchandise purchases. Prescription drugs, some medical devices and groceries are exempt from sales and use tax, according to the Bankrate "Georgia State Taxes" overview. Many local counties and cities in Georgia also take advantage of their rights to add additional local sales taxes onto purchases made within those jurisdictions. Atlanta, for instance, has a 1 percent municipal options tax, but it does not apply to vehicle purchases.


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Ad Velorum

When purchasing a vehicle within the state of Georgia, you do not actually pay the 4 percent retail sales tax. Instead, residents pay an ad velorum tax at the point of registration and must pay this tax annually for renewal, according to CarsDirect. Taxes vary based on the car's value. You would also pay any applicable county or city car taxes when registering the vehicle. The registration and renewal payment of the ad velorum tax is similar to what other states simply refer to as the registration and renewal fees.


Ad Velorum Waiver

Certain residents are not required to pay ad velorum taxes, notes CarsDirect. A disable veteran, for instance, does not have to pay. Certain active-duty military personnel are also exempt from the ad velorum tax. If you want to know if you meet any exemption qualifications, or have other car sales tax questions before a purchase, you can contact the Georgia Department of Revenue through its website.


Out-of-State Purchases

Residents of Georgia who purchase vehicles outside of the state are required to pay the state's 4 percent retail sales tax and any additional county or city taxes at the time of registration. The exception to this is if you were obligated to pay sales tax at the time you purchased the vehicle and can provide proof of payment when you register the car.