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July 21, 2021
When purchasing a vehicle, sales tax is an expense that’s often forgotten until the end. However, sales tax can add a significant amount of money to your total car purchase. To save when buying a vehicle, many people look for ways to avoid paying car sales tax.
Learn more about the vehicle sales tax in Florida and what to expect.
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Sales tax in the United States varies by state. The vehicle sales tax in Florida is 6%. Taxes vary by location, so the sales tax may be higher in areas with higher local taxes. The minimum local tax is 1.5% applied to the first $5,000 of the vehicle cost.
Find the sales tax percentage for your location, as this may increase the total sales tax fee to over the base amount of 6%. Then, you’ll multiply the cost of the vehicle by the sales tax percentage.
Let’s say in your location the sales tax is at the base of 6%. Imagine you purchased a vehicle from a trade-in. The full price was $30,000, but you received a trade-in value of $5,000, a manufacturer’s rebate of $500, and a dealer incentive of $1,000. You would pay $23,500 for the vehicle.
In this case, Florida collects a 6% sales tax on $24,000. $24,000 is the advertised price minus the dealer incentive and trade-in allowance. This price does not factor in the manufacturer’s rebate. Based on this example, you would need to pay $1,440 in sales tax.
Remember that the total amount you pay for a car (out the door price) not only includes sales tax, but also registration, and dealership fees.
Florida is one of the best states to purchase a used car because of its large inventory and quality of used cars. Purchasing a used vehicle can help you lower the cost of purchasing a new car, but it won’t decrease the tax percentage you owe. You must still pay sales tax on a used car in Florida. The sales tax rate is the same for new and used vehicles. However, since used vehicles are less expensive overall, you can often expect to pay fewer dollars in taxes.
While Florida has a sales tax of 6%, the actual sales tax for a vehicle in this state depends on the exact city you are in. Local governments can collect up to 1.5% additional sales tax on vehicle sales.
The highest tax rate in Florida is 7.5%. The cities with the 7.5% tax rate in Florida include:
A county is categorized based on the maximum sales tax rate of any town in the county. The counties with the lowest vehicles sales tax rate include:
The value of your trade-in vehicle is not subject to sales tax. Imagine that you receive $7,000 for your trade-in. You then apply the $7,000 credit to a $14,000 new car purchase. The trade-in credit reduces the cost of your new car to $7,000. In this case, you then pay sales tax on the $7,000 new vehicle price.
The buyer must pay the sales tax for a vehicle purchased from a private party. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety, it’s best to complete the transaction at the tax collector’s office. The tax collector’s office can ensure you pay the correct amount and avoid any unnecessary penalties.
Rebates and other dealer incentives are commonly offered to encourage buyers to purchase certain vehicles. For example, a $1,500 cash rebate may be offered on a $15,000 vehicle, dropping the out-of-pocket cost to $13,500.
In Florida, vehicle sales tax is applied before manufacturer incentives or rebates. In the example above, you would pay taxes on the $15,000 price of the vehicle, since this is the price before incentives.
However, the sales tax is applied minus dealer incentives. Imagine the incentive above is from the dealer, not the manufacturer. In that case, the car buyer would pay the sales tax on the car price of $13,500.
Car buyers will pay other taxes and fees in addition to the sales tax in Florida. The other fees and taxes are collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Other car-buying fees for Florida include:
Florida does offer some exemptions or situations where you are not required to pay sales tax on a vehicle. One exemption is a vehicle gifted to a family member. To ensure this exemption, you must have a bill of sale gift or affidavit to present at registration.
In addition to federal EV incentives, Florida also offers some state incentives. Two examples are the Jacksonville Plug-In Electric Vehicle Rebate. With this rebate, you can receive a $500 credit for vehicles with a battery of fewer than 15 kilowatt-hours or $1,000 for a PHEV with a larger battery capacity.
The Orlando Utilities Commission also offers a credit for new and pre-owned PEV models. This rebate must be claimed within six months of the green vehicle lease or purchase.
Read more about the EV incentives Florida offers here.
Tax information and rates are subject to change, please be sure to verify with your local DMV.
Florida’s sales tax for cars is 6%. Note that sales tax may be higher in some cities based on local taxes.
Yes, you must pay the same sales tax rate on used cars in Florida.
Citrus County has the lowest tax rate in Florida since every city in Citrus County has Florida’s minimum 6% tax rate.
The highest car sales tax rate in any city in Florida is 7.5% (the state-wide 6% plus the maximum optional local tax rate of 1.5%). Cities with the highest tax rate include Tampa, Jacksonville, Pensacola, and Kissimmee.
You do not have to pay sales tax on a gifted car when given to a family member. You must present a bill of sale gift or affidavit to earn sales tax exemption.
Registration costs for vehicles in Florida may be up to $91.20 depending on the type of vehicle.
A trade-in does reduce the sales tax in Florida. When you trade-in a vehicle to buy a new one, you will pay sales tax on the price after factoring in the trade-in value.
In most cases, you will need to pay vehicle sales tax in Florida. Receiving a gifted car is one exception. Check if you qualify for any other vehicle sales tax exemptions in Florida.
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