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How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car? Full Guide

How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car? Full Guide

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How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car? Full Guide

Paying taxes on a used car can significantly increase its overall cost. However, there are many ways to legally avoid or minimize these taxes. Some states offer tax credits or exemptions for certain types of used cars, such as electric or hybrid vehicles. In this article, we will inform you how to avoid paying taxes on a used car and about used car sales tax calculator.

What is a Used Car Sales Tax?

Person holding car key

When you buy a used automobile, you must pay sales tax, just as when you buy a new car. If your state imposes a sales tax on vehicle purchases, you must pay it whether the vehicle is new or used and whether you purchase from a dealership or an independent seller.

This tax is often levied by state and municipal governments in the United States and is calculated as a percentage of the vehicle’s purchase price or value.

The value of the tax varies based on the vehicle’s purchase price and age. In certain states, the sales tax is computed based on the vehicle’s purchase price, and in others, it is determined based on the car’s fair market value.

Most states charge approximately 5% to 9% in sales tax. It is crucial to remember that the used car sales tax is distinct from other taxes and costs that may be incurred when acquiring a vehicle, including registration fees, title fees, and paperwork fees.

On top of the state sales taxes, the county and municipal where you live may levy their own. In addition to your state’s sales tax, some states levy a motor vehicle excise tax, a personal property tax, or other vehicle-specific taxes.

How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car? Full Guide

3 cars in parking | How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car

It should be noted that failing to pay taxes on a used automobile is unlawful and can result in significant repercussions such as fines and legal penalties. It is always advisable to follow state and local rules when purchasing a secondhand automobile. Here are some of the ways how to avoid paying taxes on a used car.

1. Buy the Vehicle in a State Where the Sales Tax is Lower

If you are thinking about buying a used automobile, you should hunt for one in a state with a lower sales tax rate. But keep in mind that regardless of where you acquired the car, you will be required to pay sales tax in the state where you register it.

2. Reside in a State without Sales Tax

Living in a state that does not collect sales tax, such as Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, is one option to avoid paying sales tax on an automobile.

You don’t have to change anything, and you can concentrate on getting the greatest automobile at the best price. This also prevents you from entering any ambiguous regions, which might get you in hot water if you miss a step or do anything improperly.

3. Utilize Tax Exemptions

Several types of automobiles, such as vintage vehicles, and electric or hybrid vehicles are tax-free in some jurisdictions. If you buy a car that is eligible for a tax exemption, you can reduce your tax bill.

4. Trade Your Vehicle

You can legitimately minimize the sales tax if you trade in a vehicle while purchasing a car. The sales tax on the used automobile is calculated depending on the value differential between the car you’re purchasing and the vehicle you’re trading in.

Although not available in every state, it is available in the vast majority of them. Virginia, Hawaii, and California, as well as Washington, D.C., do not offer a sales tax credit for trade-ins.

5. Negotiate a Lower Price

Used automobiles offer far more price flexibility than new cars. You might check for vehicles that have been advertised for a long time and where the seller is more likely to be flexible.

You may also hunt for cash buyers and sellers in a hurry. This will lower the price of the automobile and, eventually, the sales tax.

Also Read: How To Get Paid to Advertise on Your Car? A Guide

States with No Car Sales Tax

Stick note on table

There are just a few states in the United States that do not levy a state-level sales tax on automobiles. Here are some of the states with no car sales tax in the USA:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon

It should be noted, however, that some of these states may have additional costs or taxes connected with acquiring a vehicle, such as registration fees or local taxes.

For detailed information about automobile purchases in a given state, it is usually better to contact the local Department of Motor Vehicles or a licensed dealership.

Can you buy Used Cars in Other State to Avoid Tax?

You may think that you can avoid paying sales tax by purchasing a car in a state that does not levy sales tax, but this is not the case.

If you buy a car out of state and return it to your home state, you will usually be forced to pay the difference in sales tax between the state where you acquired the vehicle and the sales tax rate in your home state.

This means that the DMV will ensure that you pay the state sales tax when you register the car.

What is Montana LLC Loophole?

Person signing paper | How to Avoid Paying Taxes on a Used Car

Now that we’ve covered how to avoid paying taxes on a used car legally, let’s move on to a murky area. Avoiding sales tax may save you a lot of money, especially when purchasing a luxury car.

The Montana LLC loophole is a legal tax tactic in which a car is registered in Montana through a limited liability company (LLC) to avoid paying sales tax and registration costs in another state.

By forming an LLC in Montana and registering a car under the LLC, the vehicle is regarded to have been acquired in Montana and is thus free from sales tax in another state.

States, on the other hand, are alert to this loophole and may still pursue payment. If they discover you’re driving the car primarily in a place where it’s not registered, you might face legal consequences.

It is crucial to emphasize that this method may not be legal, and anybody thinking about utilizing it should consult with a trained tax specialist.

What is a Used Car Sales Tax Calculator?

A used car sales tax calculator is an online application that estimates how much sales tax you would owe on a used automobile transaction. The calculator considers the car’s purchase price, your state’s sales tax rate, and any other fees or taxes that may be imposed in your state.

When purchasing a used automobile, taxes become more complicated. Some states enable you to work on a portion of what you bought for the automobile, while others need a professional appraisal. Some states will also charge taxes based on weight and fuel economy.

There is no one-size-fits-all methodology for computing car tax because it varies by state, county, city, and municipality. If you’re looking for a tax calculator while buying a car, experts recommend searching for your state’s DMV online calculator to learn about the regulations.

An automobile is considered personal property in almost half of the states in the United States, which means it is subject to yearly personal property tax.

The good news is that these jurisdictions have rather simple formulas for calculating how much you must pay. After you know the vehicle’s worth, just compute the sales tax based on the state tax percentage supplied by one of the sources listed above.

Do you Pay Taxes on a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Person selling car

If you want to know, do you pay taxes on a used car from a private seller? Yes, you will have to pay taxes even if you choose to buy a used car from a private seller. But, the good thing here is that, when it comes to private sellers, you can negotiate.

Buying from a seller through a private sale is usually a better option than purchasing a used automobile from a dealership. Dealerships have expenses and want to make a profit, while salespeople want to earn a commission.

The private party vendor is only interested in getting rid of the automobile. As a result, you can receive a better deal on the automobile, which can help you save money on sales tax.

How to Pay Sales Tax on a Used Car?

The procedure for paying sales taxes on a used automobile purchase varies based on where you reside. Nonetheless, in general, here are the actions you may need to take:

  • Determine Your State’s Sales Tax Rate: The sales tax rate varies by state, so you should verify with your state’s tax office to find out what rate applies to your transaction.
  • Calculate the Amount of Sales Tax Due: You may use a used vehicle sales tax calculator to determine how much sales tax you will owe depending on the car’s purchase price and the tax rate in your state.
  • Pay the Sales Tax: When you register the automobile with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, you will usually be required to pay the sales tax (DMV).
  • Get Payment Proof: After paying the sales tax, make sure you receive evidence of payment from the DMV.

That’s all there is to how to avoid paying taxes on a used car. Purchasing a used automobile may save you money not just on the vehicle, but also on taxes. There are several legal ways to avoid paying sales tax on a car purchase, but they are rare.

You can either reside in a state with no sales tax or you can simply find ways to get tax exempted. Check with your local tax authorities or the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before using any of the aforementioned ways to stay away from any legal grey area.


Aditya is a skilled researcher with a knack for understanding how companies make money. Since he was a kid, he's been fascinated by different ways to make money. He loves numbers and enjoys finding out how companies make money.

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