How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Utah?

When buying a used car in Utah, don’t get caught off guard by the state’s sales tax. Utah has a 4.85% statewide sales tax on vehicle purchases.
Utah motor vehicle sales tax is 4.85% of the vehicle's purchase price. On top of that, you may owe local taxes as well. And then there are the fees.

Keep reading to get the scoop on Utah's vehicle sales taxes and fees.
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Do you Pay Taxes When you Purchase a Car From a Private Party in Utah?

When making a car purchase in Utah, you’ll pay sales tax, whether you buy from a private seller or a car dealer. Utah law does not discriminate between the two. Unless you qualify for a tax exemption (discussed below), you have to pay tax on your vehicle purchase.
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In addition to the 4.85% state tax, you may owe local sales taxes on your vehicle purchase.

How Does Local Vehicle Sales Tax Work In Utah?

Utah municipalities and counties charge local sales taxes.

Utah cities charge 1% municipal sales tax on vehicles purchased and registered. Utah counties charge .25%. Added to the state’s 4.85%, you’d end up with a total of 6.1% across most Utah locations. Conceivably, there might be an unincorporated area somewhere in Utah where you’d pay county but not city tax, resulting in 5.1% sales tax, but that would be the exception, not the rule.

Used Vehicle Sales Tax Examples

1. 2022 Jeep Gladiator registered in Park City, purchase price $45,000
State sales tax: 4.85% of $45,000 = $2,182.50
Park City municipal sales tax: 1.0% of $45,000 = $450
Summit County sales tax: 0.25% of $45,000 = $112.50
Total sales tax = $2,182.50 + $450 + $112.50 = $2,745
2. 2019 Toyota Corolla registered in Ogden, purchase price $18,000
State sales tax: 4.85% of $18,000 = $873
Ogden municipal sales tax: 1.0% of 18,000 = $180
Weber County sales tax: 0.25% of $18,000 = $45
Total sales tax = $873 + $180 + $45 = $1,098
3. 2021 Ford Bronco registered in St. George, purchase price $32,000
State sales tax: 4.85% of $32,000 = $1,552
St. George municipal sales tax: 1.0% of $32,000 = $320
Washington County sales tax: 0.25% of $32,000 = $80
Total sales tax = $1,552 + $320 + $80 = $1,952
See a complete list of all Utah city and county sales tax rates on this official resource.

Understanding the Tax Basis of Vehicle Sales

Car sales tax is levied on the car's purchase price—unless the purchase price is suspiciously low.

Some people have the bright idea of negotiating an artificially low purchase price and then paying the difference in a side transaction. Do not attempt this; the Tax Commissioner's office is ahead of you.

The Tax Commissioner establishes what the car is worth on the open market (its fair market value, or FMV) by referring to the Kelley Blue Book, NADA value, or other reliable sources on used car prices.

If the Tax Commissioner's office establishes that the car's FMV is significantly greater than its purchase price, they can opt to base the tax on the FMV.

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

What is the Use Tax?

The use tax is a percentage of a car's purchase price that is owed to the state of Utah when the vehicle is brought into the state for registration.

When purchasing a car out-of-state, you will have to pay a 4.85% use tax (the same rate as the sales tax) when you register the car in Utah. On top of that, you may owe local sales taxes as well.

If you paid sales tax on car purchases in another state, Utah deducts that tax so that you are not taxed twice. There are three potential scenarios (leaving out local taxes for simplicity).

1. If you paid less than 4.85%, you will have to pay the difference. Let’s say you bought a used car in Wyoming for $25,000. Wyoming sales tax rates are 4%, so you paid $1,000 (.04 X $25,000) in Wyoming tax. When you go to register your car in Utah, your total tax bill will be $1,000 minus the $1215.50 you already paid in Utah. You can expect to pay $212.50 to Utah.
2. You paid no sales tax in another state. Let's say you bought a used car in Montana and didn’t pay sales tax, given Montana’s 0% tax rate. You’ll pay Utah's 4.85% use tax.
3. You paid more than 4.85% in the other state (for example, California levies a 7.5% tax on every used vehicle purchase). We wish we could tell you that Utah will give you a refund, but no. At least they won’t charge you any more tax.

How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on Vehicles in Utah?

Vehicle taxes are something you just can't avoid—they are a part of our lives. Here are the only two ways we know of for you to avoid paying sales tax on a vehicle purchase.

1. Move to a state that doesn’t have a vehicle sales tax and buy a car there.
2. Qualify for a sales tax exemption in Utah.

Utah Vehicle Sales Tax Exemptions

Most states offer exemptions for government vehicles, religious organizations, military personnel, and other categories. Utah is no exception. Here are some categories exempt from paying sales tax on a car purchase.

License Plates, Title, And Registration Fees in Utah

In addition to vehicle sales taxes, you owe other fees when buying a car and registering it in Utah, such as a registration fee and a car title transfer fee.

To register your vehicle at the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office, you must show proof of car insurance. First-time passenger vehicle registration costs from $10 to $150, depending on the vehicle's model year, plus the $6 title fee.

Utah's standard license plate fees are $12. Personalized license plates cost up to $66.

Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?

Many people believe that buying a car from a Utah dealer will save them money. Actually, going to a Utah dealer is more expensive.

Dealerships charge documentation fees above and beyond all the other Utah 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 Utah is $299.
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 offer a level of convenience that is not typically available when purchasing from a private seller. After all, that is 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 buy a used car from a private seller on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get a better deal.

Utah 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 vehicle sales tax calculator calculates the amount of tax you must pay on a used car purchase based on the combined state and local sales tax rate in Utah (6.1%) and the vehicle's price.

Sell or Buy a Vehicle Online With PrivateAuto

Browse our used car listings, and get your dream car today!

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 via our banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay. You can also schedule a test drive and negotiate the price without ever disclosing your personal information.

Here are the steps to selling your car in Utah.

1. Gather the required paperwork for selling a vehicle in Utah
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 car title

Utah Sales Tax FAQ

Is Utah tax friendly?

Which states have the lowest car sales tax rates?

How much does a license plate transfer cost in Utah?

How much is vehicle sales tax in Salt Lake City?