How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Missouri?

When buying a used car in Missouri, don’t get caught off guard by the state’s vehicle sales tax.
Missouri's car sales tax rate is 4.225% of the vehicle's purchase price. In addition, you may be required to pay local taxes.

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

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

When making a car purchase in Missouri, you’ll pay 4.225% of the vehicle’s purchase price, whether you’re buying from a private seller or a car dealer. Missouri tax law does not discriminate between the two.
How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Missouri?
Unless you qualify for a sales tax exemption (discussed below), you have to pay taxes on vehicle purchases.

In addition to the 4.225% Missouri state sales tax on car purchases, local governments (cities and counties) charge additional sales taxes and fees.

Discretionary Sales Surtax

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

Depending on where you live in Missouri, your local tax rate might be anywhere from 0% to nearly 6%. That’s on top of the state’s 4.225%.

If you live in a part of Missouri 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 nearly 6% local tax, you’ll pay one of the highest tax rates in the country: upward of 10%.
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Missouri Local Sales Tax Example

Say you're in Johnson County and you find a stunning Land Rover for $30,000.

The Johnson County surtax is 3.875%. This means you'll owe $1,162.50 in county surtax ($30,000 multiplied by .03875). Add the surtax to the $1,267.50 in state sales tax due, and you owe a total cost of $2430 in taxes.

If you're struggling with calculating Missouri local sales taxes, look up your address on this official resource, and it will tell you exactly what you owe based on your vehicle purchase price.

Missouri Sales Tax vs Use Tax

1. You paid no sales tax in another state, in which case you owe the full 4.225% Missouri 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 Missouri ’s full 4.225% sales tax rate.
2. You paid less than 4.225% sales tax in another state, in which case Missouri charges you the difference. Let’s say you bought a used car in Colorado for $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 Missouri, your total tax bill will be $845 minus the $580 you already paid in Colorado, for a total tax due of $265 to Missouri.
3. You paid more than 4.225% in the other state (for example, Texas levies a 6.25% tax on every used vehicle purchase). We wish we could tell you Missouri will give you a refund, but no. At least they won’t charge you any more tax.

Registration, Title and License Plate Fees in Missouri

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

To register your vehicle at the Missouri Department of Revenue 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 $8.50.

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

Taxable horsepower

1-Year fee

1-Year registration processing fee

2-Year fee

2-Year registration processing fee

Under 12 HP or electric vehicle or low speed vehicle





12 - 23 HP





24 - 35 HP





36-47 HP





48 - 59 HP





60 - 71 HP





72 HP +





For the full scoop on Missouri registration costs, see this Department of Revenue page.

How is Used Car Sales Tax Calculated in Missouri ?

Missouri 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 Missouri Department of Revenue can’t be fooled so easily.
How Much are Used Car Sales Taxes in Missouri?
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 Missouri Vehicle Sales Tax

Here's how to pay sales tax owed after buying a vehicle from a private seller in Missouri:

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 Missouri 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 Missouri insurance.
4. Valid driver’s licenses or IDs
5. Calculate the amount of sales tax due. Multiply the vehicle's purchase price by 4.225%.
6. Fill out the sales tax form.
7. Submit payment for all taxes and fees.
8. Get payment proof from the Missouri 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 a Department of Revenue branch to finish the transaction, which protects both of you.

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

How to Avoid Paying Sales Tax on a Vehicle in Missouri ?

Missouri 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 Missouri or any other state that charges sales tax—unless you meet an exemption in Missouri.

Exemptions from Missouri's Car Sales Tax

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

Vehicles that have a dealer title
Vehicles intended for religious schools
Government owned vehicles
Vehicles owned by insurance companies

Is Purchasing a Car from a Dealer Better?

A common misconception is that buying a car from a dealer in Missouri will save you money. The opposite is true.

Missouri 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). The maximum documentation fee in Missouri is $500.
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.

When you buy a car from private sellers on PrivateAuto, you avoid the doc fee and get lower prices.

Missouri 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. Our free online car sales tax calculator calculates the amount of tax you must pay on a used car purchase based on the tax rate in Missouri (4.225%) and the car's price.

Buy and Sell Used Vehicles Online With PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto is the only traditional marketplace where you can purchase and sell used cars easily and safely.
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Our revolutionary platform connects buyers and sellers and gives them all the tools they need to complete the deal. From secure messaging to in-app financing 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 Missouri with a few simple steps:

1. Gather the required paperwork
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

Missouri Vehicle Sales Tax Frequently Asked Questions

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. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Colorado, and Alabama charge 4.5% or less.

What are processing fees?

How do I calculate the sales tax in St Louis?

What are some additional fees I need to pay in Missouri?

How much is property tax in Missouri?