Buying a used car in Florida is a great way to save some money. But before you start counting the extra cash in your wallet, there's one thing you can’t ignore: sales tax.
How do I pay the FL car sales tax?
Is it better to go to a dealer?
Florida vehicle sales tax calculator
The statewide rate for used car sales tax in the state of Florida is 6% of the vehicle’s purchase price. On top of that, depending on which county you live in, you may owe additional taxes and fees.
Keep reading to get the scoop on Florida's vehicle sales taxes.
Do You Pay Taxes When You Buy a Car From a Private Party in Florida?
When buying a car in Florida, you’ll pay 6% of the vehicle’s purchase price, whether you buy from a private seller or car dealers. The tax law does not discriminate between the two.
In addition to the 6% Florida state sales tax on car purchases, local governments (cities and counties) often charge additional sales taxes and fees.
Discretionary Sales Surtax
Some Florida counties charge their own sales tax, called a "discretionary sales surtax," which is added to the state’s 6%. The surtax (county tax) has a cap of $225.
Let’s use an example to make this more understandable.
Say you're in Orange County, Florida, and you find a trusty 2016 Toyota Tacoma for $25,000.
You’ll owe $1,500 in state sales tax ($25,000 multiplied by .06). Orange County’s surtax is 0.5%. This means you'll owe an additional $125 in county surtax ($25,000 multiplied by .005).
Since the surtax is below the $225 cap, you'll pay the full $125.
Now, let's tally up the total tax. You have the $1,500 state sales tax, and the $125 county surtax, for a grand total of $1,625.
If all of this is melting your brain, feel free to take advantage of our free sales tax calculator.
County Surtaxes in Florida
Here’s an overview of the ten largest counties and their respective surtax rates:
Citrus County is the only local government in Florida that levies no surtax. If you live in Citrus County, you’ll owe 6% state sales tax only.
Residents of Hernando, Martin, Orange, or Volusia counties pay an additional 0.5% in surtax, so the total car tax rate increases to 7%. But if you live in counties like Franklin, Clay, Calhoun, or Osceola, the combined state and local taxes amount to 7.5%.
The discretionary sales surtax is determined by the county in which you live, not by the county in which you bought the car.
Sales Tax vs Use Tax
As we've previously discussed, sales tax is a percentage charged on the sale of a vehicle within Florida. When you purchase a vehicle from a dealer or private party in Florida, you'll pay the sales tax based on the vehicle's selling price.
Now, let's shift gears and talk about use tax. Use tax comes into play when you purchase a vehicle outside of Florida but intend to register and use it in the state. If you didn't pay any sales tax (or paid less than Florida's standard rate) at the time of purchase, you might owe a use tax when you register the vehicle in Florida. It basically levels the playing field and makes sure that cars bought in the state and cars brought into the state are taxed the same way.
The use tax rate is equal to the sales tax rate, which means you'll pay 6% state tax plus any Discretionary Sales Surtax required by the county you’re registering the vehicle in. If you paid sales tax in the state where you purchased the vehicle, you can typically receive a credit for that amount, avoiding double taxation. However, if the tax you paid in the other state is less than Florida's rate, you'll need to pay the difference as use tax when you register the vehicle in Florida.
Imagine you bought a used car in New Hampshire and didn’t pay any sales tax, given New Hampshire’s 0% tax rate. You want to register the car in Florida. You’ll pay 6% sales tax plus any applicable county surtax.
To report sales and use tax, fill out the Sales and Use Tax Return Form (DR-15) and instruction form DR-15N.
Registration, Title, and License Fees in Florida
In addition to the state and county sales tax, other fees are involved with purchasing a car, such as registration fees and vehicle title fees.
To register your vehicle with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), you must show proof of insurance. The first time you register and title a vehicle, it will cost you around $420. This includes the title charge of $75.75 or $85.75 for a Florida title certificate.
Standard license plates in Florida cost $28. You can customize your plates with special characters or a slogan, for which you’ll pay an additional $15.
How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in Florida?
In Florida, sales tax is calculated based on the vehicle's purchase price. There are people who think they can outsmart the government by negotiating a low "official" purchase price and paying the rest in a side transaction. But the FLHSMV can’t be fooled so easily.
If the FLHSMV suspects that the purchase price of the vehicle was artificially decreased, they will calculate sales tax based on the car’s fair market value. The FLHSMV establishes what the car is worth on the open market by referring to Kelley Blue Book or other reliable sources on used car prices. If the FLHSMV concludes that the car's fair market value is greater than the selling price, the sales tax can be assessed based on the fair market value.
How to Pay Florida Vehicle Sales Tax
Here's how to pay car sales tax in Florida after buying a used car from a private seller:
- You and the seller must complete the necessary paperwork to transfer ownership of the vehicle, including the vehicle bill of sale (when you buy a car on PrivateAuto, we provide an official Florida bill of sale and prompt both of you to sign it in our app at the appropriate stage of the transaction process). To transfer vehicle ownership in a private transaction, you’ll need the following documents:
- The original car title with an odometer reading and the seller’s signature
- Proof of Florida insurance
- The buyer and the seller’s valid driver’s licenses or IDs
- Calculate the amount of sales tax due depending on the state sales tax rate plus your county’s discretionary surtax. If you live in Orlando, your total sales tax is 6.5% (6% for Florida, 0.5% for Orange County). Multiply the vehicle's purchase price by 0.0650. For example, if you paid $10,000 for a car, your sales tax would be $650.
- Fill out the Application of Certificate of Title With/Without Registration (Form HSMV-82040).
- Submit payment for all taxes and fees.
- Get payment proof from the FLHSMV.
- Get your new registration and title. Once you've paid the sales tax and turned in the necessary paperwork, you'll get your new registration and title for the car. The title and registration will show that you bought the car and that the sales tax has been paid. You will also get new license plates.
If you purchase a used car from a private seller, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suggests that you and the seller both go to a vehicle service center to complete the transaction, which protects both of you. You must complete the transfer within 30 days of the sale or incur a late transfer penalty fee.
How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on a Car in Florida?
There’s no way around it—property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes, and other taxes are part of life. You are required by law to pay sales tax on used cars in Florida or any other state that charges sales tax—unless you meet an exemption.
Florida Car Sales Tax Exemptions
Here are some sales tax exemptions for used vehicle purchases in the state of Florida:
- When a motor vehicle is evenly traded for or traded down.
- When vehicle ownership is transferred as part of a divorce proceedings, the motor vehicle is not subject to sales tax. A copy of the divorce decree must be submitted with the application for certificate of title.
- If the vehicle is a part of an inheritance.
- If the vehicle is a gift and no lien is assumed. When filling out the Application for Certificate of Title, the new car owner must declare that the transfer of ownership is exempt from taxation because it was a gift.
- As part of the final dissolution of a partnership, a certificate of title is given to one of the partners without the requirement of paying the sales tax.
- Motor vehicles that are sold or given away by a religious institution or special educational, cultural, or recreational non-profit organizations are exempt.
These sales of motor vehicles are partially exempt from paying sales tax:
- If a portion of the vehicle’s purchase price was paid directly by the Veterans Administration, any portion paid by the buyer is subject to tax.
- When a person from another state who lives in a state with a lower sales tax than 6% buys a car in Florida and takes possession of it there, the buyer's home state tax rate is used. This partial exemption is applied when:
- The buyer provides the completed and notarized Partial Exemption for Motor Vehicle Sold to Resident of Another State Form (DR-123).
- The buyer pays the Florida sales and use tax.
- The vehicle is licensed in the buyer’s home state within 45 days from the transaction.
Is Buying from a Dealer Better?
Many people think buying from car dealers is a magical solution to avoid all the hassle (and perhaps a fee here and there). In fact, when you go to a dealer, you end up paying more.
- Dealerships charge a "documentation fee" above and beyond all the other taxes and fees you have to pay (which are exactly the same whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller). Dealership fees in Florida can run as high as $700.
- Dealers usually charge higher prices. Their business model is based on buying as low as possible and selling as high as possible to make the spread that keeps them in business. Cut out the middleman and go directly to the private seller to get the best deals.
We do admit that dealers bring a certain amount of convenience that you don’t traditionally get when you buy from a private seller. In fact, that’s why PrivateAuto exists. We give you dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand while allowing you to transact peer-to-peer with regular folks like yourself.
Avoid documentation fees and get lower prices when you shop used cars from private sellers right here on PrivateAuto.
Florida Vehicle Sales Tax Calculator
If you’re in the market for a used car, you need to figure out how much sales tax you owe. While you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to calculate taxes, it can be a hassle to get to the bottom of your total sales tax amount.
With PrivateAuto’s used car sales tax calculator, figuring out sales tax has never been easier. This free online tool makes it hassle-free to calculate how much tax you have to pay on a used car purchase based on where you live and the purchase price of the car.
With our car sales tax calculator, anyone can be a tax expert.
Buy and Sell Used Cars on PrivateAuto
Conduct private car transactions easily and safely with PrivateAuto. Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments.
PrivateAuto allows you to negotiate the price you want, schedule the test drive meetup, and pay for the car—all within our app without compromising your personal information.
Whether you want to shop used vehicles for sale or are trying to sell your used car for top dollar, PrivateAuto will help you get the deal done.
Get started with PrivateAuto today.
Here’s how you can sell your car in Florida with a few simple steps:
- Gather necessary documentation
You’ll need your vehicle title and other documentation. Have all the paperwork you need to sell your car privately, so you’re not scrambling to find it at the moment of completing a sale.
2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
To make PrivateAuto a safe place for everyone, we require email, phone, and driver’s license verification, including facial recognition.
3. List your car
Easily create your PrivateAuto listing with our step-by-step guide. Bonus: we include a window brochure with a QR code scannable to your listing.
4. Set your terms
It’s your car, so you drive the deal! You can control where, when, and who you meet. Decide whether to accept only ID-verified buyers, or buyers with verified funds. Don’t waste your time with buyers who aren’t verified according to your preferences.
5. Vet incoming offers
Manage offers in one place with the ability to accept, reject, or counter offers within the app. Listing on multiple sites? Filter all communications through PrivateAuto by sharing your listing link on all platforms. Your personal info is protected: no more giving out your phone number or email address. All communication happens in our app.
6. Choose a buyer
When you find an offer you like, accept it and proceed to the next step with that buyer.
7. Schedule a meeting
The buyer will want to look at your car. No more back-and-forth texts. You never have to give out your phone number. Rather, use our handy scheduling feature to schedule test drives and coordinate a time and place for meetings. (Oh, and you’ll be able to finalize the transaction instantly at the first meeting, FYI.)
8. E-sign documents
After the buyer is satisfied with your car and the two of you have agreed on a purchase price, you can easily e-sign the bill of sale within our app, from your phone. With our shared documents feature, you can easily locate the paperwork needed after the sale.
9. Get paid, instantly
Before PrivateAuto, receiving funds was the most stressful part of the entire selling process, especially for any used car sale over $5,000. There just aren’t a lot of good ways to move large amounts of money quickly and conveniently. Those days are over! Verify and receive funds instantaneously with PrivateAuto Pay, our innovative banking integration. Guaranteed funds for transactions large and small.
10. Transfer title
When you sell your vehicle, fill out the necessary information on the back of the Certificate of Title and sign in order to transfer ownership of the vehicle to the new owner.
FL Used Car Sales Tax FAQ
Who is eligible for credit for sales tax paid outside of Florida?
A buyer who presents proof that a similar sales tax has been paid on a used vehicle in another state is eligible for a credit against any Florida sales and use tax or surtax owed on a motor vehicle.
If you buy a car in New Mexico, where the sales tax rate on motor vehicles is 4%, and you want to register and title it in Florida, you must pay the additional 2%. On top of that, you owe any applicable county sales surtax, depending on where you live.
However, there is an exception to this tax law. Vehicles that were used for at least six months in another state before being imported into the state of Florida are exempt from paying use tax.
How much is sales tax on a $20,000 car in Florida?
In Florida, the base sales tax on a $20,000 car would be $1,200. Multiply the price of the car by the state tax rate (6%) to get the amount of car tax you have to pay—before factoring in the county discretionary surtax.
- If you live in counties that charge 1.5% in surtax (e.g., Hillsborough, Osceola, Jackson, Franklin, Washington), multiply $20,000 by 0.075. The sales tax on a $20,000 car is $1,500.
- If you live in counties that charge 1% in surtax (e.g., Nassau, Glades, Brevard, Indian River), multiply $20,000 by 0.070. The sales tax on a $20,000 car in these counties is $1,400.
- If you live in counties that charge 0.5% in surtax (e.g., Martin, St Johns, Hernando, Lee), multiply $20,000 by 0.065. The sales tax on a $20,000 car is $1,300.
- If you live in Citrus, the only county in Florida that charges no surtax, the tax on a $20,000 car is $1,200.
Find your state in the Florida Department of Revenue’s database to accurately calculate your car sales tax.
Do you have to pay sales tax when transferring a car title in Florida?
When you purchase a car in Florida, you owe sales tax. You also have to pay for the registration and titling of your new car, as well as transferring or obtaining new license plates. Sales tax is due on your recently purchased car unless you meet an exemption.
If it’s a gift, transferring the title to a family member is exempt from paying car sales tax. Transfers between a married couple are exempt from paying sales tax.
Members of the US Armed Forces that have permanent residency in Florida but are stationed outside of Florida are exempt from paying sales tax on titling and registering a vehicle they bought out-of-state.
What is the sales tax on vehicles purchased out of state in Florida?
When you purchase a vehicle out-of-state and bring it to Florida, you may owe use tax when registering the vehicle rather than sales tax. The use tax rate is equal to the sales tax rate in Florida, which is 6% at the state level, plus any applicable Discretionary Sales Surtax set by the county where you register the vehicle.
If you paid sales tax in the state where you purchased the vehicle, you can typically receive a credit for that amount when you register it in Florida. If the tax you paid in the other state is less than Florida's rate, you'll need to pay the difference as use tax when you register the vehicle in Florida. The use tax ensures that vehicles brought into the state are taxed similarly to those purchased within Florida.
Let’s look at a few examples to help visualize this.
- State of purchase: Georgia
- Purchase price: $15,000
- Sales tax paid in Georgia: 7% ($1,050)
- Florida use tax: None, as Georgia sales tax is greater than Florida's 6% state sales tax
- State of purchase: Texas
- Purchase price: $20,000
- Sales tax paid in Texas: 6.25% ($1,250)
- Florida use tax: None, as Texas sales tax is greater than Florida's 6% state sales tax
- State of purchase: North Carolina
- Purchase price: $12,000
- Sales tax paid in North Carolina: 3% ($360)
- Florida use tax: 6% of $12,000 = $720, minus North Carolina sales tax credit ($360), resulting in a $360 use tax owed in Florida
Which state has the cheapest car tax?
The states with the cheapest car tax are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, with a tax rate of zero. If you really want to avoid car sales tax, you might consider moving to one of these states.
With the exception of these five states, all US states have their own taxes and fees for purchasing a car. Some states offer tax exemptions for certain types of motor vehicles. States such as Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama charge lower sales tax rates on motor vehicles (less than 3.5%), so if you live in any of these, you might be able to save some money in your pocket.
How much does it cost to register a car in Florida from another state?
To register an out-of-state car in Florida, you’ll need to pay the following taxes and fees:
- A Florida license plate fee of $28 (for standard plates)
- A registration fee of $225 for Florida residents—or for anyone who moves to Florida and establishes residency
- A motor vehicle title fee of $75.75 if you are transferring the vehicle title from another owner
- Application fee of $88.25 for out of state title, or $80.25 for a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin
- Sales taxes and county use taxes according to your jurisdiction if you have just purchased the car and are registering it for the first time.
What type of handicap license plates are there in Florida?
If you need Florida handicap license plates, there are several types available:
- Disabled parking permit, temporary (valid for six months)
- Permanent placard or license plate for the disabled (valid for four years)
- Florida wheelchair license plate
- License plate for disabled veterans
- Organization permit (for organizations that transport disabled people)
A disabled veteran's license plate is free of charge.
A handicapped license plate is also free for people with permanent disabilities. A $28 fee is charged for the wheelchair license plate.
A temporary disabled parking placard costs $15 and is valid for six months.
Can I get a temporary license plate in Florida?
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issues temporary plates for 10, 30, and 90 days.
A temporary license plate used for non-dealer purposes is valid for 10 days and is usually used when:
- A motor vehicle must be weighed in order to be registered
- A motor vehicle and motorcycle needs have its vehicle identification number validated or be examined in order to apply for a Florida Certificate of Title
To receive a temporary plate, you must:
- Have a title that has been assigned to you
- Be in possession of a state identification card or a driver's license
- Have current insurance coverage
- Complete an Application for Temporary License Plate form and pay a $2 fee for the license plate and $2.50 service fee
How much is a tag and title in Florida?
When buying a car in Florida, an initial registration fee of $225 (including the tag) is applied. A Florida title transfer can cost you between $75.25 and $85.25. You’ll also need to pay 6% of the vehicle's price in Florida state sales taxes.
Who pays for the title transfer fee in Florida?
When applying for a Florida title, the buyer is responsible for paying the title transfer fee. The buyer will also pay registration fees, sales taxes, and license plate fees.
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