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How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Louisiana ?

When buying a used car in Louisiana , don’t get caught off guard by the state’s vehicle sales tax. We fill you in on what's going on, so you know what to expect.

Quick links:

How much sales tax do I pay?

Do Louisiana counties charge a surtax?

The difference between sales and use tax

How does Louisiana calculate taxes?

How do I pay the Louisiana car sales tax?

Do I qualify for a tax exemption?

Is it better to go to a dealer?

Our sales tax calculator

Louisiana's car sales tax rate is 4.45% of the vehicle's purchase price. In addition, you may be required to pay local taxes. And let's not forget about the fees that come with purchasing a car from a private party.

Keep reading to get the scoop on how vehicles are taxed in Louisiana.

Do you Pay Taxes When you Purchase a Car From a Private Party in Louisiana?

When making a car purchase in Louisiana, you’ll pay 4.45% of the vehicle’s purchase price, whether you’re buying from a private seller or a car dealer. Louisiana tax law does not discriminate between the two. Unless you qualify for a sales tax exemption (discussed below), you have to pay tax on your vehicle purchase.

The word taxes on top of money

In addition to the 4.45% Louisiana state sales tax on car purchases, local governments (cities and parishes) often charge additional sales taxes and fees.

Discretionary Sales Surtax

Some Louisiana regional governments charge their own sales tax, called a "discretionary sales surtax.”

How Local Vehicle Sales Tax Works In Louisiana

Louisiana doesn’t really have counties. Instead, it has parishes. But they’re really the same thing as counties, for all practical purposes. Many Louisiana parishes charge local sales taxes (the discretionary surtax). Some Louisiana municipalities also charge local sales tax.

Depending on where you live in Louisiana, you could end up paying from 1.85% to 7% local sales tax on top of the state’s 4.45%.

If you live in a part of Louisiana that has no local vehicle sales tax, you’ll enjoy one of the lowest tax rates in the country. If you’re in an area that charges 7% local tax, you’ll suffer one of the highest tax rates in the country at 11.45%. That’s a pretty big range for one state.

To learn more about tax rates in your Louisiana parish, see this official resource.

Louisiana Local Sales Tax Example

Say you're in Ouachita Parish and you find a stunning Toyota 4Runner for $45,000.

The Ouachita Parish surtax is 5.99%. This means you'll owe $2,695,5 in county surtax ($45,000 multiplied by .0599). Add the surtax to the state sales tax due of $2,002.50 in state tax ($45,000 multiplied by .0445) and you owe a total tax bill of $4,698.00 on that spiffy new 4Runner.

What is the Difference Between Sales and Use Tax?

Sales tax is a percentage of a car's purchase price owed to the state of Louisiana when you buy a car and register it in Louisiana.

Use taxes are pretty much the same thing, but for buying out-of-state vehicles. When you buy a vehicle out-of-state and register it in Louisiana, the state levies a 4.45% use tax. Depending on where in Louisiana the car is registered, you will have to pay local use tax as well. The use tax ensures that vehicles purchased within the state and cars brought into the state are taxed identically.

Use tax is based on the fair market value (FMV) of the vehicle rather than the purchase price. In most cases, the FMV and purchase price should be close—unless you got a screaming deal.

If you paid sales tax on the purchase of a vehicle in another state, Louisiana deducts that tax so that you are not taxed twice. There are three potential scenarios (we’re excluding local sales tax for the sake of simplicity).

  1. You paid no sales tax in another state, in which case you owe the full 4.45% Louisiana  sales tax. Let's say you bought a used car in Delaware and didn’t pay any sales tax, given Delaware’s 0% tax rate. You’ll pay Louisiana ’s full 4.45% sales tax.
  2. You paid less than 4.45% sales tax in another state, in which case Louisiana charges you the difference. Imagine you bought a used car in Colorado with a FMV of $20,000. Colorado car sales tax rates are 2.90%, so you paid $580 (.029 X $20,000) in Colorado tax. When you go to register your car in Louisiana, your total tax bill will be $890 minus the $580 you already paid in Colorado, for a total tax due of $310 to Louisiana.
  3. You paid more than 4.45% in the other state (for example, California levies a 7.25% tax on vehicle purchases). We wish we could tell you Louisiana  will give you a refund, but no. At least they won’t charge you any more tax.

Vehicle Registration, Title and License Plate Fees in Louisiana

In addition to car sales tax rates, you will owe other fees when buying a car and registering it in Louisiana, such as a car title fee and a vehicle registration fee.

To register your vehicle at the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) branch office, you must show proof of car insurance. The first time you register a passenger vehicle, you will need to transfer the title, which will cost you $68.50.

For passenger vehicles, Louisiana uses a complex sliding scale for registration and license plate fees.

Louisiana passenger license plate fees are assessed at 0.1% of the vehicle's value per year, with a minimum base of $10,000. This fee increases in increments of $2 for every $500 increase in the value of the vehicle above $10,000. For instance, if the value of your car is between $10,500 and $11,499, your plate fee would be $22 for two years. If the value of your car is between $11,500 and $12,499, your fee would be $24 for two years, and so on.

Here are some other Louisiana license plate costs.






4 years

Motor home


2 years

Commercial vehicles


1 year

For the full scoop on Louisiana license plate and registration costs, see the Office of Motor Vehicles page.

How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in Louisiana ?

Louisiana vehicle tax is calculated as a percentage of the vehicle's purchase price. Some people think they can outsmart the state by negotiating a low "official" purchase price and paying the rest in a side transaction. But the Louisiana Department of Revenue can’t be fooled so easily.

Car tax on top of a blue wooden car

If the Department of Revenue suspects that the purchase price of the vehicle was artificially decreased, they will calculate sales tax based on the car’s fair market value or book value.

The Department of Revenue establishes what the car is worth on the open market by referring to Kelley Blue Book, NADA value, or other reliable sources on used car prices. If they conclude that the car's fair market value is greater than its purchase price, they can opt to base sales tax on the fair market value.

It is important to note that underreporting the purchase price of a vehicle in order to avoid paying sales tax is illegal.

How to Pay Louisiana Vehicle Sales Tax

After buying a car from a private seller, you will pay the sales tax. Here is how to do it:

  1. To transfer ownership of the vehicle, you and the seller must complete the necessary paperwork, including the bill of sale (when you buy a used car on PrivateAuto, we provide an official Louisiana bill of sale and prompt both of you to sign it in our app at the appropriate stage of the transaction process). You'll need the following documents to transfer car ownership in a private transaction:
  2. The original car title.
  3. Proof of Louisiana insurance.
  4. Valid driver’s licenses or IDs
  5. Calculate the amount of sales tax due. Multiply the vehicle's purchase price by 4.45%.
  6. Fill out the sales tax form.
  7. Submit payment for all taxes and fees.
  8. Get payment proof from the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
  9. Get your registration, title, and new license plates. Once you've paid the sales tax and turned in the necessary documentation, 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 get your new license plates in mail.

If you buy a used car from a private seller,it is recommended that both you and the seller go to an Office of Motor Vehicles branch to finish the transaction, which protects both of you.

How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on Cars in Louisiana ?

Taxes are something you just can't avoid—they are a part of our lives. You are required by law to pay tax on private used vehicle purchases in Louisiana or any other state that charges sales tax—unless you meet an exemption in Louisiana.

Louisiana Car Sales Tax Exemptions

Here are some sales tax exemptions for used car purchases in Louisiana:

  • Non-residents. Non-residents who buy a vehicle in Louisiana but do not register or title it there don't owe sales tax in Louisiana. They will, however, owe it in their state of residence, unless they’re lucky enough to live in one of the few states with no vehicle sales tax.
  • Military personnel. Subject to certain conditions, active duty military personnel stationed in Louisiana may be exempt from paying sales tax on vehicle purchases.
  • Alternative fuel vehicles. Louisiana provides a tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles that meet certain criteria, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
  • Government entities. When purchasing vehicles, government entities may be exempt from certain taxes, including sales tax.

Purposefully avoiding sales tax when you owe it is a criminal offense.

Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?

A lot of people mistakenly believe that buying a car from a Louisiana dealer saves money. The opposite is true: going to a Louisiana dealer costs you more money, and it's a pain—unless spending 3 hours in a Louisiana dealership is your idea of a good time.

  • Dealerships charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other taxes and fees you have to pay (the other taxes and fees are exactly the same whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, by the way). An average documentation fee in Louisiana is $200.
  • Used car dealerships typically charge higher prices. Their business model is based on buying low and selling high to generate the spread that keeps them in business. To get the best deals, skip the middleman and go directly to private sellers.

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 we exist. PrivateAuto gives you dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand while allowing you to transact peer-to-peer with regular folks like yourself.

By shopping for used vehicles from private sellers on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get lower prices.

Louisiana Sales Tax Calculator

If you're in the market for a used vehicle, you'll want to calculate the applicable sales tax. With PrivateAuto's used car sales tax calculator, calculating sales tax has never been easier. This free online car sales tax calculator calculates the amount of tax you must pay on a used car purchase based on your tax rate (4.45%) and the vehicle's price.

Sell or Buy a Vehicle Online With PrivateAuto

Sell your car privately 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. You can also schedule a test drive and negotiate the price without ever disclosing your personal information.

Here’s how you can sell your car in Louisiana with a few simple steps:

  1. Gather the required paperwork for selling a car in Louisiana
  2. Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
  3. List your car
  4. Set your terms
  5. Vet incoming offers
  6. Choose a buyer
  7. Schedule a meeting
  8. E-sign documents
  9. Get paid, instantly
  10. Transfer title

In the market for a quality used vehicle? Browse used cars for sale by owner.

Louisiana Vehicle Tax FAQ

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. Nevada has no taxes on private-party car sales, though it does have them for dealership purchases.

If you really want to avoid car sales tax, you might consider moving to one of these states.

With the exception of the above states, all US states charge sales tax on private-party car purchases. There are some states, such as Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama, that charge 4.5% or less.

How do I calculate the sales tax in Cameron Parish?

To calculate the vehicle sales tax in Cameron Parish (or any parish in Louisiana), follow these steps.

  1. Calculate Louisiana sales tax due (4.45% of your vehicle’s purchase price)
  2. Calculate your parish sales tax due (0% in Cameron Parish)
  3. Add the two together.

What is the Louisiana road use tax?

According to OMV, road use tax is “Tax imposed on tangible personal property being transferred into the state of Louisiana for use. Road Use tax differs from sales tax, because it is assessed on the N.A.D.A. value, rather than the sales price of the vehicle.”

What are the additional fees on cars purchased in Louisiana?

Fees on top of increasing coin stacks

When buying a car in Louisiana, you must also pay additional taxes and fees.
Here are some additional fees that you might face when registering a vehicle in Louisiana:

  • A title fee: $68.50
  • A plate transfer fee: $3
  • Handling fee: $8.00
  • Local fee: $6.00 (may apply and will not exceed $6)

Does Louisiana have excise taxes?

Louisiana does have excise taxes on certain goods and services. Excise taxes are levied on the manufacture, sale, or consumption of specific items. Some common examples of goods and services subject to excise taxes in Louisiana include:

  1. Tobacco products
  2. Alcoholic beverages
  3. Fuel
  4. Amusements and entertainment

How are dealer incentives and rebates taxed?

To encourage sales, many dealers offer cash incentives or manufacturer rebates on the sticker price of a vehicle. A $2,000 cash rebate may be offered on a $12,000 car, reducing the buyer's out-of-pocket expense to $10,000.

Since vehicle purchases are taxed in Louisiana after rebates and incentives are applied, you will only be taxed as if the car cost $10,000.

What happens if I avoid Louisiana taxes?

Tax avoidance or evasion is illegal and can result in a variety of penalties. If you evade paying taxes in Louisiana or any other jurisdiction on purpose, you may face the following:

  1. Penalties and fines
  2. Legal action
  3. Interest and late payment charges
  4. Loss of benefits
  5. Audits and increased scrutiny

When is the Louisiana vehicle tax due?

Louisiana vehicle tax is due by the 20th of the month following the purchase of your vehicle. If you just moved to Louisiana, your taxes must be paid on the 20th of the month following the month you moved.

Do I have to pay sales tax on a trade-in?

You don’t have to pay sales tax on trade-ins; the tax is calculated on the net purchase price of your vehicle after deducting the trade-in value.

Many dealerships will give you a credit toward the price of a new car if you trade in your old one. For example, you could trade in your old car and get a $10,000 credit toward the price of a new car that costs $15,000. This would mean that you would only have to pay $5,000 out of your own pocket.

Because the trade-in value is not subject to sales tax, the taxable price of your new vehicle will be $5,000. This means you'll save the sales taxes you'd have paid on the $5,000 value of your trade-in.