When buying a used car in West Virginia, don’t get caught off guard by the state’s vehicle sales tax. West Virginia has a 6% statewide sales tax on vehicle purchases. We give you the lowdown so you know what to expect.
Unlike many other states, West Virginia doesn’t have local sales taxes; 6% is the most you'll pay.
Keep reading to get the full scoop on West Virginia sales tax liabilities for your used motor vehicle sales.
Do you Pay Taxes When you Purchase a Vehicle From a Private Party in West Virginia?
Do you Pay Taxes When you Purchase a Vehicle From a Private Party in West Virginia?
When you buy a car in West Virginia, there are two possible scenarios:
- If you buy a vehicle and the net purchase price is more than $500, you will pay a 6% sales tax when transferring the title at the DMV.
- If the vehicle's net purchase price is $500 or less, you don't have to pay the 6% sales tax. Instead, you'll pay a flat fee of $30 when you title the vehicle.
This is the case whether you buy your vehicle from a private seller or a car dealer. West Virginia's tax law does not discriminate between the two.
Unless you qualify for a tax exemption (covered below), you’ll owe tax on your car purchase in West Virginia.
Sales Tax vs Use Tax
Sales and use tax are both similar. Each is a percentage of a car's purchase price owed to the state of West Virginia when you buy a car and register it in West Virginia.
- Sales tax is for cars purchased within the state.
- Use tax is for cars purchased outside the state and brought into the state for registration.
The vehicle use tax ensures that vehicles purchased within the state and cars brought into the state are taxed identically.
Use taxes apply when buying an out-of-state vehicle. When you purchase a car outside of West Virginia and register it in West Virginia, the state levies a 6% use tax (the use tax rate is the same as the West Virginia vehicle sales tax rate).
If you paid sales tax on the purchase of a vehicle in another state, West Virginia deducts that tax so that you are not taxed twice. There are four potential scenarios.
- You paid exactly 6% sales tax in Pennsylvania or one of the other states with the same 6% sales tax rate as West Virginia, in which case West Virginia will give you a pass.
- You paid no sales tax in another state, in which case you owe the full 6% West Virginia use 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 West Virginia’s full 6% use tax rate.
- You paid less than 6% sales tax in another state, in which case West Virginia charges you the difference. Let’s say you bought a used car in Virginia for $25,000. Virginia car sales tax rates are 4.15%, so you paid $1,037.5 (.0415 X $25,000) in Virginia tax. When you go to register your car in West Virginia, your total tax bill will be $1,500 minus the $1,037.5 you already paid in Virginia, you can expect to pay $462.5 to West Virginia.
- You paid more than 6% in the other state (for example, New Jersey levies a 6.625% tax on every used vehicle purchase). We wish we could tell you West Virginia will give you a refund, but no. At least they won’t charge you any more tax.
How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in West Virginia?
The transaction privilege tax is a percentage of a car's purchase price owed to the state of West Virginia when you buy a car and register it in West Virginia.
If the West Virginia State Tax Department suspects that the car price was artificially decreased, they will calculate sales tax based on the car’s NADA, or the retail price of vehicles.
The State Tax Department establishes what the car is worth on the open market by referring to the NADA value or other reliable sources on used car prices. If they conclude that the car's NADA value is greater than its purchase price, they can opt to base the tax rate on the NADA value.
It is important to note that underreporting the purchase price of a vehicle in order to avoid paying sales tax is illegal.
License Plates, Title And Registration Fees in West Virginia
In addition to the state vehicle sales taxes, you owe other fees when buying a car and registering it in West Virginia, such as a registration fee and a car title transfer fee.
To register your vehicle at the West Virginia county tag office, you must show proof of car insurance. First-time registrations cost $51.50 plus the $15 title fee.
West Virginia's standard license plate fee is included in the registration fee. A personalized plate costs anywhere from $44.38 to $93.13.
How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on Vehicles in West Virginia?
Motor vehicle taxes are something you just can't avoid—they are a part of our lives. You are required by law to pay sales tax on private used vehicle purchases unless you meet an exemption in West Virginia.
West Virginia Car Sales Tax Exemptions
Most states offer state exemptions for government vehicles, religious organizations, and military personnel. To learn more about vehicle sales tax exemptions you can qualify for in West Virginia, check with your local DMV.
Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?
Many people believe that buying a car from a West Virginia dealer will save them money. Going to a West Virginia dealer is more expensive and inconvenient—unless spending 3 hours in a West Virginia dealership is your idea of a good time.
- Dealerships charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other West Virginia 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 West Virginia is $499.
- Used car dealerships usually have higher prices. Their business model is based on buying low and selling high in order to generate the spread that allows them to stay in business. Skip the middleman and deal directly with private sellers to get the best deals.
We admit that dealers provide a level of convenience that you do not typically get when buying from a private seller. That is, after all, why we exist. PrivateAuto puts dealer-like convenience in the palm of your hand while also allowing you to transact with regular people like yourself.
When you shop for used vehicles from private sellers on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get lower prices.
West Virginia Car 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 the sales tax rate in West Virginia (6%) and the vehicle's price.
Our innovative platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app vehicle 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 West Virginia with a few simple steps:
- Gather the required paperwork for selling a car in West Virginia
- Register on PrivateAuto and get verified
- List your car
- Set your terms
- Vet incoming offers
- Choose a buyer
- Schedule a meeting
- E-sign documents
- Get paid, instantly
- Transfer title
West Virginia Car Sales Tax FAQ
Which state has the cheapest sales tax on car sales?
The states with the cheapest car tax are Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon, with a tax rate of zero. Nevada has a zero tax rate on private-party car sales, though not on dealership purchases.
With the exception of the above states, all US states charge sales tax on private-party car purchases. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama charge 4.5% or less vehicle sales tax.
How to do a transfer of ownership in West Virginia?
When buying a used car from a private seller in West Virginia, the buyer will have to complete the vehicle title transfer at their local Division of Motor Vehicles.
To apply for a vehicle title transfer in West Virginia, you need:
- A completed application for certificate of title (Form DMV-1-TR)
- The current vehicle title that is signed by you and the previous vehicle owner
- A notarized bill of sale (Form DMV-7-TR)
- Proof of a valid West Virginia car insurance policy
- Payment for applicable title fees and sales tax
Vehicle title fees may vary depending on the West Virginia county you reside in. The standard DMV fees for in West Virginia are as follows:
- Vehicle title application: $15.
- Duplicate title fee: $10.
- Lien fee: $10.
- West Virginia sales tax of 6% on vehicles purchased for $500 or more, $30 on cars bought for less than $500.
Does West Virginia have excise taxes?
West Virginia has several excise taxes. These taxes are levied on specific goods and services, with different rates depending on the item. West Virginia imposes the following excise taxes:
- Soft drink tax
- Alcohol tax
- Fuel tax
- Cannabis dispensary tax
How much is sales tax in Sulphur Springs?
Since West Virginia has no local taxes, all you will pay is a 6% sales tax.
How long do you have to live in West Virginia to become a resident of West Virginia?
There are two ways to become a resident of West Virginia:
- Physical presence. If you spend more than 30 days in West Virginia with the intention of making it your permanent residence, you can become a resident.
- Domicile. You can also become a resident if you are a domiciliary resident of Pennsylvania or Virginia and have a physical presence in West Virginia for more than 183 days during the fiscal year.
What is the DMV5TR form used for?
The affidavit of transfer of ownership without consideration (Form DMV5TR), is a form used in West Virginia to transfer the ownership of a vehicle without any consideration.
Here are some of the situations where you may need to use the ownership without consideration form:
- You are giving a vehicle to a family member as a gift.
- You are trading in a vehicle for a new one.
- You are selling a vehicle to a friend for a nominal amount of money.
- You are donating a vehicle to a charity.