New Year, New Laws

With the new year, there comes a host of new laws that go into effect, and 2020 is no different.  There are several new laws that will impact Georgians on a daily basis.  Some of the new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2020 are:

Senate Bill 65

This is known as the “Title Ad Valorem Tax: Used Cars and Tax Rate” and works to lower the title ad valorem tax (“TAVT”) rate from 7 percent to 6.6 percent until June of 2023.  In addition to the lower TAVT, the law also changes the calculation of the TAVT on used vehicles.  Now, when a used vehicle is purchased from a retailer, the TAVT will be based on the retail sales price, rather than the book value.  The result may be that the TAVT on the used vehicle is now higher than it would have been otherwise under the old method of calculating the TAVT.

House Bill 63

This law will give doctors a way to work around what is called “step therapy”. Step therapy is when an insurance company requires a patient to try certain medications first and have those drugs fail before the patient can receive the drug prescribed by the patient’s doctor.  If your health plan renews or starts on January 1, this law allows your doctor to apply for an exception to avoid step therapy and skip straight to the drug that is prescribed by the doctor.

House Bill 266

This law provides that it you use a 529 Plan to save for college, your state tax deduction will double from $2,000 to $4,000 per child for single taxpayers, and double from $4,000 to $8,000 per year for taxpayers who file jointly with their spouse.  This will allow you to save more each year in a 529 Plan in an effort to prepare for the increasing cost of higher education. 

House Bill 239

This law establishes a business court that handles business issues such as contract disputes, copyright disagreements, and other complex business cases.  The purpose behind establishing the business court is for the business court to provide a forum where there are dedicated business court judges who are well-versed in the area of business law and, thus, better-equipped to handle complicated business cases.  Additionally, the hope is that the business courts will be able to hear cases much more quickly than traditional Superior or State Courts, where litigants can wait many months, or sometimes over a year, before reaching trial.    Please see our prior blog article for more details about the business court.

House Bill 314

This law requires titling of boats and watercraft (similar to how other vehicles are titled), and provides the rules for the titling system. It is designed to deter and impede theft and facilitate the ownership, transfer and financing of boats and watercraft.

House Bill 288

This law revises fees that superior court clerks can charge to file documents related to real estate and personal property.  Rather than charging a per-page fee, for many documents, the clerks will now charge a flat fee.  The goal is for the fee structure to be clearer and easier to understand.

House Bill 507

This law amends the criteria used by tax assessors to determine the fair market value of real property.  This is an effort to make the value reached by the tax assessors more representative of the true fair market value of real property.