The pace has remained brisk at the Forsyth County tax commissioner’s office since Friday, when nearly 500 residents came in.
The sudden increase in traffic, which was more than 100 people above the average, is the result of a new state law that took effect March 1 eliminating the ad valorem tax on certain vehicles.
Under the new law, anyone who buys a car after Friday will pay a one-time 6.5 percent fee that replaces sales tax and the so-called “birthday tax,” due in the month of the owner’s birth. In 2015, that fee will increase to 7 percent.
But the rush is for people who bought a car after Jan. 1, 2012, and can opt into the new arrangement.
Forsyth wasn’t alone. Most county tax offices saw similar increases — so much so, the state couldn’t handle the surge.
“The state system was down a good bit of the time,” said Forsyth County Tax Commissioner Matthew Ledbetter. “That seemed to have been giving us more problems than anything.
“From what I understand from the Department of Revenue, the system was getting overloaded with the amount of opt-ins it had going into the computer system.”
Ledbetter said his office was ready for the rush, and has handled it with help from some new part-time workers.
But he noted that residents wanting to opt in to the new arrangement don’t have to fight the crowds; they have until their birthday to sign up.
“They’re welcome to wait until their birthday or they’re welcome to come on in and we’ll take care of it now,” Ledbetter said. “We have sent every tag and title clerk to the Department of Revenue’s education courses and they’re all certified and can take care of your transaction.”t