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DMV Wait-Times Down, Gun Permits Up: TN Dept. of Safety

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security; July 18, 2013:

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced that the average wait time at state driver services centers has decreased so far this year compared to 2012.

The average wait time from January 1 – June 30 at centers statewide, excluding reinstatement centers, fell from 34 minutes in 2012 to 31.5 minutes in 2013. There was a slight increase, however, from the first quarter of 2013 in which the average wait time was 30.5 minutes compared to the second quarter when the wait time averaged 32 minutes.

The decrease in wait time for the first six months happened while the number of statewide transactions at driver services centers increased. Driver license examiners served 621,405 customers from January 1 – June 30, 2012. In the first six months of 2013, the number of customers grew to 626,211.

“We are monitoring these figures very closely. Reducing the wait time at our driver service centers is a priority so when we experience an increase we act immediately to identify the reasons,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

Gibbons attributed the increase in the second quarter of 2013 in part to the increase in handgun carry permit applications as well as the installation of new equipment.

During the first six months of 2013, the department accepted 86,334 handgun carry permit applications at driver services centers, compared to 40,503 applications accepted during the first six months of 2012. That is an increase of 113 percent.

The department continues to install new equipment and software at all driver services centers in preparation for a new central issuance process of issuing driver licenses. While this new process is expected to help reduce wait times in the future, the installation of the equipment is causing some delays.

The Driver Services Division is also in the process of hiring additional part-time employees to help the centers at peak hours. Funding for the positions was appropriated in the current state budget.

“The new equipment and additional staff should help us in the long term provide better and more efficient service to our customers,” Gibbons noted.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure that our state is a safe, secure place in which to live, work and travel; enforce the law with integrity; and provide customer-focused services professionally and efficiently.

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Press Releases

Grocery Tax to Decrease July 1

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Revenue; June 11, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. – On May 13, 2013, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a reduction in the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients. Effective July 1, 2013, the state sales and use tax rate on sales of food and food ingredients will be reduced from 5.25% to 5%.

With the change, food and food ingredients will be subject to a reduced state sales and use tax rate of 5% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Prepared food, dietary supplements, candy, alcoholic beverages and tobacco continue to be subject to the general state sales and use tax rate of 7% plus the applicable local sales and use tax rate. Existing laws defining which items are considered food and food ingredients remain unchanged by the new legislation.

Businesses selling food items subject to the reduced rate of sales and use tax are advised to begin making the necessary changes to allow for the new rate beginning July 1, 2013. Changes to cash registers and accounting systems should be completed by the July 1, 2013 effective date. Businesses must continue to collect and remit the existing 5.25% tax on sales of food and food ingredients made through June 30, 2013 to the Department of Revenue.

The Department of Revenue is responsible for the administration of state tax laws and motor vehicle title and registration laws established by the legislature and the collection of taxes and fees associated with those laws. The Department of Revenue collects approximately 87 percent of total state tax revenue. During the 2012 fiscal year, the department collected $11.4 billion in state taxes and fees. In addition to collecting state taxes, the Department of Revenue collects taxes for local, county and municipal governments. During the 2012 fiscal year, local government collections by the Department of Revenue were $2.2 billion. In collecting taxes, the department enforces the revenue laws fairly and impartially in an effort to encourage voluntary taxpayer compliance. The department also apportions revenue collections for distribution to the various state funds and local units of government. To learn more about the department, log on to www.TN.gov/revenue.