Distributions Unit FAQs
I am NOT a county official. Who should I contact with issues related to my business, sales tax, or personal account?
You should contact the Taxpayer Services Division at 1-877-423-6711.
Are distributions for this month collections from the previous month?
Yes, sales tax collected by vendors during a calendar month are due no later than the 20th of the following month. After collections are remitted to DOR via sales tax returns, the department will distribute them to the counties and cities at the end of the month.
How do I update our county financial institution information to receive our local tax distributions?
Where do I sign up to receive sales tax rate updates and legislation changes?
Visit this page and click on “Receive rate change alerts in your email inbox”
Our county/city distribution was audited, and we would like to know what business, period, etc., it was for?
The information the locals can legally receive is under SB 371.
This information is managed by our Legal Affairs and Tax Policy division. Instructions and contact information is provided in the bulletin.
When will the distribution data for this month be released on the Georgia Tax Center?
Distribution data is released at the end of each month.
What reports can DOR provide local governments that can assist them in understanding their revenue trends and projections?
Because the DOR is bound by current law to protect the taxpayer’s confidential tax information (O.C.G.A 48-2-15), the DOR cannot identify specific taxpayer information, even to local governments receiving these tax proceeds. However, the DOR has developed a report that compares tax distributions by county and major commodity sector for different periods. This commodity data is maintained using the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS).
The commodity report segregates your monthly distributions into major industry sectors. The amount of distributions for a six- or 12-month period by commodity sector (Accommodations, Automotive, Food, General Merchandise, Manufacturing, Other Retail, Home Furnishings, Utilities, etc.) can be analyzed. Comparing these amounts by economic sector can give a good picture of your local economy.
The DOR can also provide a listing of each sales tax dealer registered in each county with name, address, and Sales Tax Certificate number (We are unable to provide Federal Employers Identification Numbers or Social Security Numbers).
How often is your Sales Tax Commodity Report updated?
Is your Sales Tax Commodity Report based on all jurisdictions in the county?
Our Sales Tax Commodity Report is based on the 1% Local Option Sales Tax, county-wide. For counties without a Local Option Sales Tax, the 1% Educational Local Option Sales Tax is used.
Why is the Commodity Report not matching the numbers shown on the Georgia Tax Center?
The commodity report is run against live data. Any adjustments to tax returns at a later time would result in a different outcome on the commodity report. The commodity report is run once per quarter, so prior months would be a bit off from the exact amount. Running it today, would result in a slightly different outcome than if we ran it a month ago.
What documents are needed to continue our tax?
When a county has an election to continue a Sales Tax, whether the election passes or fails, send a copy of the Election Summary Report and Ballot Question to the Department of Revenue, Distributions Unit.
Why each month’s distribution does not represent one calendar month’s sales activity?
The Department of Revenue distributes sales taxes to local governments at the end of each month. This distribution encompasses sales tax collections received from returns, assessments and audit collections that were processed during the preceding 30 days. These collections/proceeds are primarily derived from the sales period one month prior to the month of distribution. The normal reporting process would be that sales activity from June are reported by taxpayers to the DOR by July 20th and processed/distributed by July 30th. However, some of the collections/proceeds that are included in each monthly distribution may also include funds derived from assessments and audit collections for earlier sales periods, possibly several months or years prior to the month of distribution. In addition, returns having errors or missing information require additional time to process and therefore may be distributed several months after receipt.
What happens to sales tax collections that cannot be processed and distributed to the proper local jurisdiction?
The General Assembly authorized the Department to allocate unprocessable sales tax collections to all jurisdictions receiving local sales taxes on a pro rata basis (O.C.G.A 48-8-67). This allocation is done at least twice per year for tax proceeds received for more than 90 days and after reasonable efforts have been made to distribute these funds to correct jurisdictions.
Why gross sales data is not very meaningful to a jurisdiction (county, school, or city)?
The gross sales data that is reported to the Department on a sales tax return reflects a taxpayer’s statewide gross sales. From gross sales, the taxpayer deducts nontaxable sales (e.g. sales for resale) to arrive at their statewide taxable sales. For purposes of reporting local sales taxes due, the taxpayer multiplies their taxable sales for each jurisdiction by the appropriate tax rate for that jurisdiction. The gross sales for each jurisdiction are not reported to the DOR, only the taxable sales.
While the Department of Revenue could provide local jurisdictions with a reporting of statewide gross sales for all taxpayers registered within a county, this number would not include taxpayers filing consolidated (master) tax returns or those taxpayers registered out of state and delivering products into a jurisdiction. Further, the gross sales number has minimal impact on the total amount of distribution that a local jurisdiction ultimately receives each month since there are many other factors that may affect the total amount of the distribution.
Why all retail sales sold in a jurisdiction (county or city) may not be taxed by that jurisdiction?
Tax distributions represent local taxes paid on retail sales of products delivered or used in a taxing jurisdiction (i.e. county or City of Atlanta), not necessarily the point of sale or the retail store location. In Georgia, and in most other states, sales taxes are imposed on the consumer based on where the exchange of title and possession took place. In a typical retail transaction, title and possession occur in the store or the point of sale; however, many taxable services and products are delivered to a customer’s location and should be taxed in that jurisdiction, not the point of sale. The only point of sales data the DOR receives from retailers is their “gross” statewide sales or use. Additionally, taxpayers do not report and DOR does not distribute sales taxes based on zip codes.
Why a jurisdiction’s monthly distributions (SPLOST or ELOST) are not the same amount?
Although each local sales tax is imposed at 1%, the amounts distributed each month to the county or school system will rarely be the same. The differences are typically minor, but they do occur. There are several potential reasons why a local jurisdiction’s monthly distribution for SPLOST and ELOST will not be the same including exemptions (refunds, audits, use tax, etc.)
The Department allocates equally to each local jurisdiction imposing a tax whatever taxes are reported and paid to a jurisdiction. When a taxpayer underpays their total tax due, the Department will bill the taxpayer for any shortage. Once the assessment is collected, we incorporate these revenues (tax, penalty, and interest) into the next distribution equally for the proper taxes and jurisdictions previously under-paid. With the implementation of the Integrated Tax System (hereinafter “ITS”) in May 2009, some of the previous differences attributed to the timing of payments and collections have been reduced.
Taxpayer refunds and audits are another cause for amount differences. For example, when a taxpayer overpays their taxes they are distributed to the local jurisdictions. If the taxpayer later files a refund claim, we confirm the validity of the claim, refund the taxes and interest to the taxpayer, and then adjust or subtract the amount previously distributed (plus interest) from the jurisdiction. This reduces that month’s distribution for the affected tax type. If a county imposed 3 taxes, but their SPLOST was not in effect during the original over-payment, then that tax type would not have an adjustment, causing a difference among the distribution amounts. Similarly, audits are conducted to ensure that the taxpayer has properly reported and remitted all state and local sales and use taxes. These audits cover at least a three (3) year period. If it is determined from this audit that additional taxes are due, then the taxpayer is billed, and collections are incorporated into the subsequent distributions. Again, if one of the local taxes was not in effect at the time of the deficiency, then no adjustment or collection is due for that tax or affected jurisdiction causing differences among the tax distributions.