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How Are Vehicle Tax and Tags Calculated

by Cara Hopkins on July 11, 2012

You might think that settling on a price for a used car is pretty cut-and-dried, but before you fork over every last cent of your savings, keep in mind that the sale price isn’t everything. You must consider vehicle tax and vehicle registration costs, too.

Calculating Vehicle Tax and Tag Costs

You often can’t calculate exactly how much these additional fees will be, but you can get a fairly close estimate using an online tax calculator before you find yourself in line to get your car registration.

Taxes and registration costs on used cars vary depending on several variables:

  • The state and county in which the vehicle is registered.
  • Vehicle weight.
  • Type of license plates requested.
  • Whether or not there was a trade-in.

Car dealerships may tack on additional administrative


Whether you are shopping online, buying from a dealer, or following up on a “for sale” sign you saw in the windshield of a car parked in your neighborhood, the only way to estimate how much a used vehicle will end up costing you in the end is to enter as much information as you can into an online tax calculator and roll the dice. For more on purchasing a used vehicle, check out our Used Car Buyers Guide locating in our Buying & Selling section of the site.

TIP: If the estimated price with the tax and registration fees is a bit more than you want to pay, you may consider haggling with the seller. A few hundred dollars from the sticker price could sweeten the deal for you and may not be a deal-breaker to a motivated seller.

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Category: Taxes

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