How much sales tax you have to pay when buying a vehicle, from sedan to motorcycle, truck and others, depends on the laws of your home state and the purchase state. Some states have reciprocal tax relationships, providing credits to each other when a resident pays sales taxes across state lines.
Pennsylvania for example has reciprocal agreements with Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. Wisconsin has an agreement with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan. You can always check your local DMV’s website to see if your home state has any reciprocal agreement with other states, before buying an out-of-state vehicle.
More than just the sticker price
Buying a vehicle can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, with expenses beyond the MSRP. Think registration, gasoline, repairs & maintenance, insurance, and more. It’s safe to say that owning a car comes at a price, and a sales tax increases that price. It can make the difference between staying within budget, or blowing it completely. For example, a $35,000 sedan with a 7.5% tax rate such as in Alabama becomes a $37,625 sedan. It’s close to $3,000 more.
SEE ALSO: PENNSYLVANIA TITLE TRANSFER
6% tax rate, and more
In Pennsylvania, a vehicle is subject to sales tax since it’s considered personal property. PA has a 6% sales tax rate for motor vehicles. If the vehicle will be registered in Allegheny County, (PA’s 2nd most populous county) there’s an added 1% local sales tax for a total of 7% sales tax on a vehicle purchase. In Philadelphia, there’s an extra 2% sales tax for registering a car for a whopping 8% total.
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The Pennsylvania sales tax you pay on your car purchase goes to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation who collects the funds for the PA Department of Revenue. Don’t forget in Pennsylvania, the sales tax is only applied to the final cost of the vehicle; after rebates are applied.
The Motor Vehicle Understated Value Program
Pennsylvania’s Department of Revenue can decide to add more sales tax on a car purchase under the MVUVP. This added tax is applied if the Dept. of Revenue decides that the sale price is much lower than the market value. The goal of the program is to target those trying to sell below market in order to lower the sales taxes on the vehicle.
Vehicles received as gifts in PA
Gifted vehicles are not subject to sales tax in Pennsylvania. But the gift recipient must show that either the purchaser paid sales tax on the car when first bought, or he/she paid use tax on the current fair market value of the car to register the car in Pennsylvania.
There’s a misconception that a minimal purchase price like $1 has to be reported on the MV-4ST form even when the car is gifted. But that’s incorrect, it often triggers a transaction review because the $1 is obviously less than market value. If you need to register a car as a gift in PA, you should fill out form MV-13ST; and Affidavit of Gift.
While PA has sales tax on cars, did you know that Montana, Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, and New Hampshire don’t?