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Old 03-02-2021, 05:16 PM   #1
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Thumbs up How Sales tax works on RV purchased

Sales Tax and DMV Registration are based on "Where the Vehicle will be Kept". SO if you Live in one of the highest taxed Cities in Los Angeles with a 10.25% Sales tax but store your RV in a low tax county like a city in Ventura or Kern counties where the sales tax rate is only 7.25% could save you lots of money.
Example if you register a big Diesel Pusher that you paid $200,000 for the difference in sales tax is $6000 between Ventura 7.25% County area vs. LA with 10.25% tax rate.
So check out the state Sales tax web site first at CDTFA and check tax rates by county. See if you can find a storage location in a low tax rate area first. Most people in LA can't fit an RV where they live anyways so its worth it to check this out.
Also Did you use/own or plan to use/own your RV 51% of the time outside of California during the first 12 months of ownership. If so then you should have operated on the out of state plates for the first year. After one year of ownership then no California tax would be due at all.
One popular option for people planning Full time or heavy use of an RV during the first year is to Register it in Montana. You might think that you don't have an address in in the state of Montana but if you own an RV you can drive it up to Yellowstone park. Stare at the Bison and Geysers and then drive up to a campground in Montana. So if you are staying at a campground in Montana then yes you do have a current address in Montana and can then go over to the Montana DMV and use that address to register your RV. States that don't have sales tax include Montana, Alaska, Oregon, but they might expect you to have your drivers license in that state. But you can do a Statement of facts stating that your 2nd home is in that zero tax state and your primary home is in another state and they should likely accept that. Or you can register your RV in a business or trust name and that might help.
Generally if you are using and or keeping your RV physically outside your home state 51% of the time during the first year then you can register it anywhere you want.
IF you are a cash in full buyer of your RV this is likely simple to do. If you are financing your RV then the bank as a 3rd party might stipulate that you must register in your home state so check tax rates for different locations because that could offer massive cost savings.
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Old 03-02-2021, 07:18 PM   #2
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Geeze you made my head spin. At least one good thing about NJ, no crazy county differences in sales tax. You pay the state sales tax when you get title, done. Sounds like the CA system opens door to all sorts of fraud.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:03 PM   #3
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Massachusetts doesn’t have county tax rate, flat 6.25% as soon as you go to the DMV. They don’t care where you bought your vehicle either. You want to register it in Massachusetts 6.25% thank you very much. Plus we have an excise tax as well. We pay that every year. 25% per 1000 but they have a crazy way of figuring that out. It drops every year as the vehicle value drops.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:24 PM   #4
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No sales tax in Alaska, but many areas have a Biennial Motor Vehicle Tax according to age of the motor vehicle. Non-commercial trailers including TT's & 5er's are eligible for one time permanent registration fee "Z" tab. Unless you are active duty military or a out of state college student attending college in Alaska you will have to obtain both vehicle registration and driver's license if you claim an Alaska residency. The application for title/registration asks for that information.
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Old 03-02-2021, 08:25 PM   #5
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No Sales tax here on Oregon and registration is 2 years and still far less than California for one year.
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:25 PM   #6
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No sales tax in Alaska and no third party VIN verification needed. I paid $90 for everything, and that includes title and permanent registration that never needs renewal. So I'm done with DMV for as long as I own this trailer.
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Old 03-03-2021, 09:54 AM   #7
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DMV Fees are In addition to Sales tax

So there are 2 fees to worry about....
In California they call it Sales/Use tax so for example..
This a charge assessed against the purchase price.
so if you live in Los Angeles County some city charge at a rate of 10.25%.
Sales tax is set and approved by voters in elections.
but tax is only charged against a purchase.


each year in addition the DMV charges Annual Registration fees.
Some years back our Governor was Grey Davis and he had approved the increase of vehicle registration fees about 2.2% each year.
He got Recalled and Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor and reduced the car Registration tax to under 1%.
Back in 2017 Governor Brown increased the car registration fees again.
SO if you buy an RV in a 10.25% city/county sales tax area then you could end up paying 13% in Governmental fees combined at purchase and then the DMV registration again each year in California.


California has a way around this if you buy an RV.
here is an example:
If you are a able to buy your RV in Full and you want to buy from a California Dealer this is the way to avoid tax..


At time of sale the dealer can drive the RV under dealership control outside of the state across the state line to someplace like Phoenix, Las Vegas are any nearby city that is outside of California. Once the dealer has driven the RV across state lines the nature of the transaction changes from a retail transaction to an interstate commerce transaction.
You the buyer and the dealer rep need to visit a Notary to sign a California tax form CDTFA-448.
The Notary provides 3rd party verification that the dealer appeared outside of California. The dealer can accept and retain this completed form instead of the tax money.
then you the buyer can go register in Montana or somewhere much cheaper. If you the buyer keep documents that the RV was outside of California 51% for the first year then you will not have to pay tax to California even if you were challenged by state tax audit.


The state publishes a manual for Auto dealers to understand the complexity. but anyone can download and read it.


Publication 34, Motor Vehicle Dealers - CDTFA - CA.gov

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Old 03-03-2021, 02:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by AlaskaErik View Post
No sales tax in Alaska and no third party VIN verification needed. I paid $90 for everything, and that includes title and permanent registration that never needs renewal. So I'm done with DMV for as long as I own this trailer.
Yep, and if you're 65 or older you are entitled to obtain one motor vehicle registration for free which is a permanent registration "P" tab.
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Old 03-03-2021, 03:17 PM   #9
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It is pretty obvious what the intent is when living in another state and registering in Montana. Long before this thread, I read an article that Minnesota was cracking down on Montana registrations. When law enforcement gets involved, it is a lot more than a traffic ticket. Georgia, California, Texas, Minnesota and other states getting more involved in enforcement.

There are tales that red cars attract police. What may be more true is that Montana plates may get their attention quicker. Who wants that type of attention?
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Old 03-03-2021, 03:19 PM   #10
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Wow, glad I live in SC. You pay $500.00 flat sales tax on RV, Boat, Auto, whichever. This is for new purchases. There is a lesser threshold where you would actually pay less for used model.
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Old 03-03-2021, 03:38 PM   #11
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Just an FYI California has a CHEATERS Program to try and catch out of state registered vehicles being driven on a regular basis.
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Old 03-03-2021, 04:28 PM   #12
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Just an FYI California has a CHEATERS Program to try and catch out of state registered vehicles being driven on a regular basis.
I seem to recall an individual in the last century that had a police force that relied on folks to report their neighbors.
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Old 03-03-2021, 04:35 PM   #13
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If you don't want to get hit with tax fraud your drivers license, vehicle license and rv license has to be all from the same state
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Old 03-03-2021, 09:48 PM   #14
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Wow, glad I live in SC. You pay $500.00 flat sales tax on RV, Boat, Auto, whichever. This is for new purchases. There is a lesser threshold where you would actually pay less for used model.
My city has a sales tax. If I were to buy a new truck or trailer there I would have to pay $12.50 in sales tax.
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Old 01-04-2022, 02:42 PM   #15
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If you don't want to get hit with tax fraud your drivers license, vehicle license and rv license has to be all from the same state
Is this true?

I live mostly in California, therefore have a California drivers license and California vehicle license (plates) on my car.

I live part time in Arizona, in a smaller condo. When in Arizona, I'm closer and central to family members spread out across multiple western states, so we mostly gather together there on holidays - often without enough sleeping space to comfortably accommodate.

I just bought a small camper trailer from a private seller here in California for the purpose of parking it at the condo in Arizona to be used for extra sleeping space. I intend to register the camper in Arizona where it will be parked and most often used.

Regarding camper sales, California tax law states "use tax applies to purchases of vehicles for use in California". This implies no use tax is paid on vehicles intended for use outside of California. Given 'use tax' is applied upon California vehicle registration, this implies a vehicle intended for use outside of California does not necessarily have to be registered in California.

Arizona DMV says a vehicle intended for use or storage in Arizona must be registered there. Therefore, my Arizona RV license (registration) would be different from my California driver's license and California car registration.
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Old 01-04-2022, 03:47 PM   #16
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Is this true?

I live mostly in California, therefore have a California drivers license and California vehicle license (plates) on my car.

I live part time in Arizona, in a smaller condo. When in Arizona, I'm closer and central to family members spread out across multiple western states, so we mostly gather together there on holidays - often without enough sleeping space to comfortably accommodate.

I just bought a small camper trailer from a private seller here in California for the purpose of parking it at the condo in Arizona to be used for extra sleeping space. I intend to register the camper in Arizona where it will be parked and most often used.

Regarding camper sales, California tax law states "use tax applies to purchases of vehicles for use in California". This implies no use tax is paid on vehicles intended for use outside of California. Given 'use tax' is applied upon California vehicle registration, this implies a vehicle intended for use outside of California does not necessarily have to be registered in California.

Arizona DMV says a vehicle intended for use or storage in Arizona must be registered there. Therefore, my Arizona RV license (registration) would be different from my California driver's license and California car registration.
The rule for registration, in our experience, is where is it kept/garaged. We have properties in Florida and Wisconsin, We have a Florida driver's license. We have a boat and vehicle registered in FL. We have a boat and vehicle registered in Wisconsin. We have made certain that the registrations fall within the DNR (boat) and the DMV (vehicle) guidelines. In each of our transactions, we have conferred with registering agencies to explain the circumstances. It has been perfectly acceptable multiple times for over 15 years.

We also have to deal with some oddities. We can purchase firearms in Florida, but are prohibited in Wisconsin even though we own real estate. We can purchase ammo in either state. In Wisconsin, we purchase a non-resident fishing license even though we own property in Wisconsin. We have been checked by the DNR, showing WI boat registration and FL driver's license and have past multiple times. So, it is possible, and legal, to have a driver's license in one state and a vehicle/camper/boat registered in another state and be legal.

As for AZ and CA, sales tax would apply to the state the camper is registered in, but you can' take the best of both. The question might come up in CA if you decided to bring the camper back into the state. The most trusted source of information is the DMV in each state.
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Old 05-06-2022, 10:53 AM   #17
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Massachusetts doesnít have county tax rate, flat 6.25% as soon as you go to the DMV. They donít care where you bought your vehicle either. You want to register it in Massachusetts 6.25% thank you very much. Plus we have an excise tax as well. We pay that every year. 25% per 1000 but they have a crazy way of figuring that out. It drops every year as the vehicle value drops.
Not true. Just bought a Motorhome in Florida and paid the state sales tax to Florida. Used a FL temp registration to drive it home. The dealer had a notary at the dealership that filled out a Florida state taxes paid form which we took to the Mass registry along with a tax exemption form since sales tax was already paid.

Massachusetts doesnít care where you buy the vehicle, only that a sales tax was paid to somebody. If you buy in a state with no sales tax, or sales tax less than Mass, then you pay the Mass sales tax, or the difference between Mass and where you bought it.

If you do not get a taxes paid verification then Mass will want the sales tax.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:09 PM   #18
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Sales tax

I bought my trailer six months ago. I have a bill of sale. My address is in Torrance and the sellers address was listed as Ontario California but she had Nevada plates. I have not registered or paid sales tax yet. The guy at the DMV told me if I waited a year I would not have to pay but the previous owner wants me to get it registered in my name as she feels she has some sort of liability. Itís insured in my name. Would like to get out of paying the sales tax obviously. What would you recommend? Thank you.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:12 PM   #19
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I bought my trailer six months ago. I have a bill of sale. My address is in Torrance and the sellers address was listed as Ontario California but she had Nevada plates. I have not registered or paid sales tax yet. The guy at the DMV told me if I waited a year I would not have to pay but the previous owner wants me to get it registered in my name as she feels she has some sort of liability. Itís insured in my name. Would like to get out of paying the sales tax obviously. What would you recommend? Thank you.
Pay the tax. She does have some liability as long as it's registered in her name.
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Old 08-07-2022, 03:29 PM   #20
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Pay the tax. She does have some liability as long as it's registered in her name.
Not necessarily. I sold a center console boat a few years back. The new owner failed to record the purchase, so the county and state sent me the next year tax notice. All I had to do was send them a copy of the notarized bill of sale and they recorded the transfer for the new owner and took my name off the title effective the actual sale date. They also hit him with penalties as you are required by law to record change of ownership within so many days.

Only took 1 phone call and an email with a scan of the bill of sale for me to resolve this. I suspect any prior owner in almost any state/county could do the same to relieve themselves of any liability. They cannot penalize you for an action the new owner is required to take (unless your state requires you do make the notification?).

So YES, pay the tax. Because it is the right thing to do and they can add on penalties if they catch you.

Oh, and one more comment on registering in another state to evade taxes (notice I said "evade" not avoid - "evasion" is illegal but avoidance is taking advantage of a legal procedure which false registration is not). In GA, "conspiracy to defraud the state" is a felony. If you and the seller use a false out of state address, even it the seller is out of state, that constitutes a conspiracy under that title. Also there is false statement if you omit that trailer, boat or other asset from your tax filings, etc... All felonies. GA WILL prosecute you if they catch you. So evade at your own risk (I suspect most states have similar laws, etc...)

Pay the tax. It's cheaper in the long run and still the right thing to do.
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