What’s the Car Sales Tax in Each State? (Updated for 2024)

Car Sales Tax by State

When purchasing a car, many buyers often overlook a significant expense: sales tax.

At FindTheBestCarPrice, our seasoned editors leverage their extensive experience across different states to provide you with precise calculations of vehicle sales tax for each state.

Consider how an 8% sales tax on a $15,000 car can unexpectedly increase your total cost by $1,200, excluding additional fees like those for the DMV, documentation, and registration.

With sales tax varying significantly by state, and some states not imposing one at all, it's crucial to grasp these details.

Let's explore the sales tax for car purchases in each state, equipping you with the knowledge needed to navigate this aspect of car buying.

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Car Sales Tax by State

In the table below, we show the car sales tax rate for each state.

StateSales Tax
New Hampshire0.00%
New Jersey6.625%
New Mexico4.00%
New York4.00%
North Carolina3.00%
North Dakota5.00%
Rhode Island7.00%
South Carolina5.00% (or $500)
South Dakota4.00%
West Virginia6.00%

States with No Sales Tax

Some states do not charge any sales tax on cars. The states with no car sales tax include:

States with Low Sales Tax On Cars

Next up are the states that have minimum sales tax rates below 5%. The minimum sales tax states are:

Several U.S. states offer relatively low sales tax rates for vehicles, making them potentially more affordable. Alabama and Colorado notably stand out with the lowest rates.

States like Hawaii, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, and South Dakota are close behind with only a 4% tax.

North Carolina and Oklahoma set their rates slightly lower, while Missouri and Virginia have slightly unique rates, neither reaching as high as 4.25%.

However, it's important to note that local taxes can also apply and could raise the overall tax rate, making it crucial to check local rates before finalizing a vehicle purchase.

States with High Sales Tax

The remaining states have the highest sales tax, all 7% or above. The high sales tax states are:

Sales Tax on Lease

How Is Sales Tax Calculated on a Car Lease?

You must pay sales tax when you lease a car. In most states, you pay sales tax on the monthly lease payment, not on the car's full price.

Sales tax on a leased vehicle depends on the state's tax rate and the lease payment amount.

Imagine that your monthly lease payment is $500, and your state’s sales tax on a leased car is 6%. For a $500 monthly lease payment at 6% sales tax, you must pay $30 in sales tax each month.

Therefore, your total monthly lease payment, including sales tax, would be $530.

Can I Save Money on Sales Tax by Buying a Car in a Different State?

If you live just across the border from a state with little or no sales tax, it might be tempting to buy your car out of state to save money on sales tax. While there are other reasons to consider buying a car out of state, you will not save money on sales tax by buying a car in a state with low or no sales tax.

You must pay the sales tax for the state you will register your car in, which is the state you live in. 

However, there are a few legal ways to avoid paying sales tax on a car.

Check out which states are the best to buy a car in.

Tax Credit on Trade Ins

Can I Get a Sales Tax Credit for my Trade-in?

In many states, you can get a sales tax credit based on the value of your trade-in.  Depending on the amount of your appraisal, you may be able to get more money trading to the dealership than selling your car on your own.

We've created a calculator that will tell you the tax credit amount and help you determine whether it's better to trade-in to the dealership or to sell your car privately.

Tax information and rates are subject to change; please be sure to verify with your local DMV. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a sales tax when buying a new car?

Yes, when purchasing a car, you generally must pay a state tax on cars, often referred to as sales tax. The exact amount varies based on your state's specific tax rate and the vehicle's purchase price. Certain states might also charge additional local taxes. It's important to understand these charges, as they significantly impact the total cost of buying a vehicle. Always check your state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the most accurate information on car sales tax.

Are there states with little to no sales tax on new cars?

Yes, there are a few states that have little to no state tax on cars, especially new ones. Specifically, states like Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Delaware do not impose any sales tax on cars. This includes new cars, making these locations ideal for cost-conscious buyers. Comparing the car tax by state can help you determine the most affordable locations to purchase a new vehicle. On the other hand, there are states like North Carolina and Hawaii that have relatively lower sales tax rates, typically falling below 5%.

What states have the highest sales tax on new cars?

When it comes to states with the highest sales tax on cars, a few stand out significantly. Oklahoma leads with a tax rate of 11.5%, closely followed by Louisiana at 11.45%, and Arkansas at 11.25%. These states, along with a few others, have tax rates that tend to exceed 10% of the vehicle's purchase price, a factor that considerably inflates the final cost. In other words, the state tax on cars in these states can add a considerable amount to the overall price of a new car.

Does the sales tax amount differ from state to state?

Absolutely, the amount of sales tax indeed varies significantly from state to state. Some states have chosen not to impose any sales tax, while others levy a high sales tax rate, often exceeding 10%. The amount you'll end up paying as sales tax is largely contingent upon where the car is registered, rather than where it was purchased.