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What Is Florida Sales Tax on Cars?

By Melissa Spicer | June 15, 2022

The sales tax rate in the state of Florida is 6%, as of 2022, which includes taxes on the purchase of new and used vehicles. Generally, when you buy a vehicle in Florida, the state assesses a tax on the full purchase price. The average cost paid to the state of Florida for title, registration, and plate fees is $181.

The amount of sales tax you pay can vary depending on factors including the county in which you live, whether you buy the vehicle outside the state of Florida, and whether the sale involves a trade-in. When contemplating a new or used car purchase, it helps to calculate how much the Florida Department of Revenue and your county tax collector's office receive to know your final cost.

Sales tax is assessed on all motor vehicles, not just automobiles such as cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans.

Florida also collects 6% sales tax on:

  • Semi-trailers, trailers, truck tractors, and semi-trailer combination vehicles.
  • Private motor coaches.
  • Conversion vans.
  • Park and fifth-wheel trailers.

Any other type of vehicle that is required by Florida law to be titled, licensed, and registered.

When you buy a new vehicle, the dealership handles collecting the sales tax. When you purchase from a private owner, you're responsible for sending the payment to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Sales tax is paid on top of any other costs when buying a new car, including registration fees. Sales tax is not to be confused with property tax. Florida is one of only a handful of states that does not charge property tax on vehicles owned by taxpayers.

How Florida Treats Rebates and Discounts

You may benefit from manufacturers' rebates, dealer incentives or discounts, and trade-in allowances on vehicle sales when you buy a new car from a vehicle dealer. Florida subtracts dealer discounts and trade-in allowances from the taxable purchase price, but it doesn't subtract manufacturers' rebates from the taxable amount.

Here's how deals work under Florida law: The car you want is advertised for sale at a full purchase price of $30,000, but the dealer tells you there's a $3,000 manufacturer's rebate and gives you a $500 dealer incentive, plus a trade-in allowance of $1,500. You pay $25,000 for the new car, saving you $5,000.

Under Florida state law, the Florida Department of Revenue collects 6% sales tax on $28,000, which is the advertised full purchase price of $30,000 minus the $500 dealer discount and $1,500 trade-in allowance but not minus the $3,000 manufacturer's rebate. You pay $1,680 in-state sales tax, 6% of $28,000.

Calculating County Discretionary Sales Surtaxes

In addition to the state's 6% sales tax rate, Florida law allows counties to assess discretionary sales surtaxes on the sales price of the vehicles residents purchase. When calculating the amount of county tax due, the Florida county in which you buy the car doesn't matter. The county and city you live in determine how much you pay.

If you live in Miami-Dade County or Pinellas County, you pay 1% county sales tax on the first $5,000 of your vehicle purchase, which adds $50 if your car costs $5,000, making the state and county sales tax total $350. You pay more if you live in counties where residents pay their county tax collector the maximum allowable rate, 1.5% on the first $5,000.

So if you live in Escambia County and buy a used car for $5,000, you pay $75 in county sales tax plus the state sales tax of $300 on your purchase price, for a total of $375 in sales taxes. Even when your car costs more than $5,000, the county sales tax is still only $75 because Florida state law limits the tax to the first $5,000.

Motor vehicle dealers are required by Florida statutes to charge these state and local taxes on all car sales they make.

Sales Tax vs. Use Tax

When you buy a car, mobile home, or recreational vehicle, the dealer adds sales tax to its price and you pay it to complete the sale. If you didn't pay sales tax when you bought the vehicle, you owe use tax. You owe Florida use tax if you buy a mobile home in New Hampshire, don't pay sales tax on it, and have it delivered to Florida. To report sales and use tax, use Sales and Use Tax Return Form DR-15 and instruction form DR-15N. The Department of Revenue provides a free and secure File and Pay webpage to pay electronically. The Florida Department of Revenue issues a Tax Information Publication (TIP) that sets out the vehicle sales tax rates by state.

Taxes on Vehicles Purchases Outside of Florida

If you purchase a vehicle outside of Florida and bring it into the state, expect to pay a Florida tax of 6%, which is known as a use tax. Generally, the rate applies to a vehicle you register, title, or license in Florida after you complete a vehicle sale in another state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory.

The good news is that if you paid state and local sales taxes where you bought the vehicle, Florida law credits you for the use tax and discretionary sales surtax amounts you paid. When your payment is the same as or greater than what you would pay in Florida, you don't pay anything more.

When the out-of-state tax you pay is less than the amount due in Florida, you pay the difference between the out-of-state and Florida amounts. You won't owe any Florida use tax if you show proof that you used your car outside of the state for at least six months before you register it in Florida.

How to Obtain a Florida State Title

When you buy a new vehicle from a licensed dealer, the dealer should complete and give you a Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO). Whether you're a Florida resident or a resident of another state, to obtain a title in Florida as your home state, attach the form to your title application, Form HSMV-82040.

Any unpaid Florida sales tax on cars will be collected when you apply for the title. You need proof of Florida insurance to register your vehicle with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). The approximate cost to register and title a vehicle for the first time is $420, including the title fee for a Florida title certificate, which is $75.75 or $85.75 if your vehicle has an out-of-state title.

Florida Sales Tax on Cars in Private Sales

If you buy a used car from a private seller, FLHSMV recommends you both go to a vehicle service center to complete the transaction, which protects you and the seller. Remember, the sales price of the vehicle doesn't include sales tax or tag and title fees, so you must pay them at the vehicle service center to transfer ownership. Complete the transfer within 30 days of the sale, or you must pay a late transfer penalty fee. To title your vehicle in another state, buy a temporary tag at the DMV service center. When you purchase the temporary license plate, you must pay the total sales tax. The temporary permit is valid for 30 days, giving you time to drive the vehicle to the other state.

Whether you're buying a used motor vehicle from a friend or a new BMW from a dealer, making your vehicle purchase is an exciting event. Calculating the tax for the purchase can help you understand the total purchase price of the vehicle and make transfers of ownership go more smoothly. Know the rules and procedures for dealing with Florida sales tax on cars to handle the transaction with ease and keep all the excitement on a positive note.