How Much are Used Vehicle Sales Taxes in Montana?

If you’re planning to buy a used car in Montana, you won't have to worry about paying sales tax on your purchase. Montana is one of the five states without a statewide sales tax on motor vehicle purchases.

Do You Pay Taxes When Purchasing a Vehicle From a Private Seller in Montana?

When buying a car in Montana, whether it’s from a private party or a car dealer, you don’t owe sales tax. Where other states rely on sales tax to fund infrastructure and programs, Montana funds these from personal income tax and property tax. As a result, Montana residents pay a higher income tax of up to 6.75% and a personal property tax of 0.740% of the assessed home value.

Like in other states, you’ll still have to pay vehicle registration, license, and car title fees after buying a used car in Montana.

Montana Registration, Title, and License Fees

Aside from your car’s purchase price, you have to factor in registration, title transfer, and license plate fees.

Montana Vehicle Title Fees

The cost of a Montana title transfer is $12, while a salvage title will cost you $18.50. Title transfers are done in-person at the Motor Vehicle Office of the County Treasurer in your county.

The late title transfer fees are calculated based on the duration of the delay. If you go over 61 days from the date of your car purchase and you haven't transferred your vehicle's title, you'll start piling on penalties.

Here's the late fee breakdown:

1. If you complete the transfer between 61 and 180 days, you'll be charged a late fee of $10 per month, with a maximum of $60.
2. If you are 181 and 360 days late, the fee jumps up to $20 per month, with a maximum of $120.
3. If you’re 360 days late, hold on tight. The late fee for this extended period is $30 per month, with a maximum of $180.

Here’s what you’ll need to transfer a title in Montana:
1. A bill of sale (Form MV24)
2. Proof of a lien release (if applicable)
3. A completed application for certificate of title for a motor vehicle (Form MV1)
4. Payment for the titling fee: $12

Montana Car Registration Fees

The registration fee in Montana depends on the vehicle’s weight and age.
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Light vehicles, buses, and trucks under one ton will be susceptible to the following registration fees:

0-4 years: $217
5-10 years: $87
11+ years: $28
11+ years: $87.50 (permanent registration)

Before registering new cars, you have to transfer the title to your name.

Montana License Plate Fees

Standard Montana plates cost $10.30. If you’re applying for new license plates, you will go to your local county treasurer's office.

Montana law requires new license plates to be issued every five years.

Car owners who have permanently registered their car can continue to use the plates issued to them at the time they registered their vehicle. Vehicle owners who wish to use the 2010-issue plate can request the new plates upon surrender of their old plates displaying the permanent tab and payment of one or more of the following:

$10.30 new issue fee
$10.30 replacement plate fee
$15.45 duplicate plate fee
$10.30 duplicate permanent tab fee

The state of Montana requires cars to have a rear plate only. While other states only require rear license plate, some states require front license plates in addition to rear plates.
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Montana vs Neighboring States

If you’re buying a vehicle in Montana, consider yourself lucky: the state levies no sales tax on used or new vehicle purchases. Nevada has the highest sales tax rate on car purchases at 8.25%—if you’re buying from a dealer (Nevada does not levy sales tax on private car sales, interestingly enough). California has the highest car sales tax after Nevada, with a whopping average of 7.5%.

If you take a look at the states bordering Montana, you’ll see that the sales tax on vehicle purchases in Idaho is 6%; in Washington, it’s 6.5%; and in Wyoming, it's 4%. These states also impose local (city, county, or both) taxes, resulting in a significantly higher total sales tax on motor vehicles.

If you want to buy a car out of state and immediately register it in Montana, you should be subject to Montana sales taxes—which are zero.

Here’s our handy used car sales tax calculator to help you with those pesky sales tax calculations.

Is Buying a Car from a Dealer Better?

Many people believe that buying from a car dealer is a great way to avoid hassle and save money. In fact, going to a dealer ends up costing you more money.

When you buy a car from a dealership, you pay the same fees as if you bought it from a private seller. Car dealers have a way of burying everything in fine print, but the fees are still there.

More importantly, you can pretty much count on paying more at a dealership than you would from a private seller for the same used car. To turn a profit, dealers are known for "buying low and selling high." By doing business directly with one another on PrivateAuto, you can save money by skipping the middleman.

Additionally, dealerships charge a "documentation fee" above and beyond all the other taxes and fees you have to pay. The average documentation fee in the state of Montana is $299, with a state limit of $350.

PrivateAuto fills the gap left by traditional car dealerships by connecting buyers directly with private sellers. Our platform provides a dealer-like experience while allowing you to buy or sell from regular people without paying ungodly fees.

Get lower prices when you shop for used cars right here on PrivateAuto.

Buy and Sell Used Cars on PrivateAuto

Conduct private car transactions easily and safely with PrivateAuto. Our transactional marketplace gives buyers and sellers all the tools to complete the deal, from in-app financing to secure messaging to integrated payments.

We allow you to negotiate the price you want, schedule test drive meetups, and pay for the car—all within our handy app without putting out your personal information.

Whether you want to buy a vehicle 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 Montana with a few simple steps:

1. Gather necessary documentation
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 the title

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get taxed in Montana if I buy an out-of-state vehicle?

If you’re a Montana resident and you buy a used car in South Dakota, you do not pay South Dakota sales tax. You’ll pay Montana sales tax, which, since it’s nonexistent on vehicle purchases, is to say you won’t pay sales tax. Sales tax in South Dakota does not apply to sales of motor vehicles to nonresidents that will use the vehicle out of state.

Does Montana require emissions testing?

Is auto insurance mandatory in Montana?

Why do Utahns register vehicles in Montana?

Can anyone hire a Montana registered agent?

How to buy a used car in Montana?

Is there a local tax in Montana?

Is Montana the only state without sales tax?

Is Montana a tax-friendly state?

Does the car price affect how much sales tax I have to pay?