How Much Are Used Car Sales Taxes in New York?

Don’t let New York sales taxes catch you off guard when buying a used vehicle from a private seller. We help you understand New York taxes and fees so you won’t face sticker shock.
The state of New York charges a 4% used car sales tax on the purchase price of the vehicle. Many New York counties or municipalities levy their own sales tax, bringing the total to upwards of 8% for most residents of the state.

Do You Pay Taxes On a Used Car From a Private Seller in New York?

Private-party vehicle transactions don’t get special treatment. If you buy a used car from a private seller in New York, you must pay the 4% state car sales tax, the same as if you purchased from a dealership–plus city or municipal sales tax.

A total of 639 New York tax jurisdictions collect an average local tax of 4.25%, which gets added to the state’s 4%.

The highest tax rates in New York are in Brooklyn, New York, the Bronx, Staten Island, and 55 other cities that charge 8.87%.

You’ll pay the lowest sales tax rates in Columbia County, Sullivan County, and Ulster County, for a total of 8.12%.

Aside from the sales tax, other fees involved with purchasing a used car may include registration fees, title fees, and documentation fees.

Here is a table of total used car sales tax rates for the top 10 largest cities in New York:
For a complete list of municipalities and their respective sales tax rates, see the New York State Department of Tax and Finance website.
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How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in New York?

Sales taxes are assessed as a percentage of the vehicle’s purchase price. Some people get the brilliant idea to negotiate a low “official” purchase price and pay the remainder in a side transaction. That won’t work, as the DMV is way ahead of you.

People who try to avoid paying the full vehicle tax by artificially lowering the price they paid for the car will be let down. The New York DMV can simply use the car's "fair market value" (not the car price) as the basis for calculating sales tax.

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) establishes what the car is worth on the open market by referring to the Kelley Blue Book or other reliable sources of information about used car prices. If the DMV concludes that the car's fair market value is greater than the purchase price, the sales tax will be assessed based on the fair market value.

If you’re buying the car from a private party, you must declare the car's fair market value to the DMV and pay the appropriate amount of sales tax based on that value. Failing to do so may result in fines and penalties.

Sales vs Use Tax

Sales tax in New York varies by location, with rates ranging from 4% to 8.88% due to additional local taxes. When you purchase a car and register it in New York, you are required to pay this sales tax based on the vehicle's purchase price.

Use taxes in New York apply to out-of-state vehicles. If you buy a vehicle from another state and register it in New York, a 4% use tax is typically levied, aligning with the state's general sales tax rate. This tax ensures consistent taxation for vehicles purchased within the state and those brought into it.

In scenarios where you have already paid sales tax in another state:

1. If you paid sales tax matching New York's rate you are generally exempt from additional taxes.
2. If you didn't pay any sales tax in another state, such as purchasing a car in Delaware with a 0% tax rate, you would owe the full 4% New York use tax.
3. If you paid less than 4% sales tax in another state, like buying a car in Pennsylvania with a 6% tax rate, New York would charge you the difference.
4. If you paid more than 4% tax in another state (e.g., California's 7.25% rate), New York typically does not issue a refund but also does not impose additional taxes.

To accurately report sales and use tax, complete the required forms as specified by the New York Tax Department.

How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on a Car in New York?

Unfortunately, property tax, income tax, sales tax, and other taxes are part of life. There is no way to legally avoid paying sales tax on used cars in New York or any other state—unless you meet an exemption.

The following tax exemptions for used vehicle purchases are listed on the New York DMV website:

If the vehicle was a gift or was purchased from a family member, you can receive a sales tax exemption. You’ll need the Statement of Transaction form.
If you paid out-of-state sales tax, you’ll need to provide the out-of-state bill of sale. The purchase price and the amount of out-of-state sales tax paid must be shown on the bill of sale. To claim credit for state and local sales taxes paid in another state, use the Sales Tax Paid in Another State Sales Tax form (DTF-804). If New York State and the other state have a sales tax agreement, this approach can lower the amount of your New York State sales tax. (Check the back side of the DTF-804 form to see the list of states with a sales tax agreement.)
If you were not a New York resident at the time the car was purchased, you can use the Sales Tax Exemption form (DTF-803) to obtain a non-resident exemption.
You can defer paying car sales tax if you are a member of the United States Armed Services and do not live in New York. You need to fill out the Sales Tax Exemption Form (DTF-803) if:
You are a NY resident
You’re a member of the US Armed Forces
You do not currently reside or keep a residence in NY state

To qualify for these exemptions, evidence must be presented to the DMV.

If you plan to move to a state with no sales tax, try purchasing the car after your relocation. Otherwise, we don't recommend attempting to avoid paying car sales tax in New York or anywhere else. The thousands of dollars you might save are not worth the legal and financial implications, nor the loss of your peace of mind.

New York License Plates, Title And Registration Fees

In addition to the state sales tax, you may owe other fees when buying a car and registering it in New York, such as a vehicle title fee and registration fee.

To register your vehicle at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) branch office, you must show proof of car insurance. The first time you register a passenger vehicle, it will cost you from $26 to $140 plus the $10 title transfer fee.

New York's standard license plate fee is $25.
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Buy a Car Through PrivateAuto

You’ll love how smooth and secure the car-buying process is when you use the PrivateAuto mobile app.

1. Browse our wide selection of used cars for sale by owner. Filter by location, vehicle type, or other criteria.
2. Make offers on vehicles you like (PrivateAuto lets you offer less than the asking price).
3. Message the seller with any questions without giving your contact info.
4. Schedule the test drive while keeping your details private.
5. Electronically sign the bill of sale along with the seller.
6. Instantly send payment and take ownership of the car when the seller signs the title and gives you the keys.

NY Sales Tax FAQ

Who pays sales tax on a used car in NY?

The person who buys a used car in New York is accountable for paying the sales tax.

If you purchased your vehicle from a private seller, both you (the buyer) and the seller must complete the Statement of Transaction Sales Tax Form (DTF-802). The DMV will calculate and collect the sales tax, and issue a sales tax receipt.

Is it expensive to buy a used car in NY?

Does NY have a vehicle excise tax?

Why is New York's car sales tax so high?