How to Calculate Florida Sales Tax on a Motor Vehicle Purchase

by Jennifer Mueller

Florida law requires motor vehicle dealers to register and collect taxes on each vehicle it sells. However, if you buy a car directly from a private individual, rather than a dealer, you must pay the sales tax yourself. For this reason, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends that you complete the sales transaction at your local county tax collector's office to get guidance and ensure you've paid the correct amount.

State Sales Tax

Florida assesses a state sales tax of 6 percent on the full purchase price of the vehicle, at the time of publication. The full purchase price generally is the amount you actually pay for the vehicle. However, if you buy from a dealer and get a manufacturer's rebate, Florida does not deduct the rebate amount from the purchase price. By contrast, the purchase price does not include any discount or trade-in allowance that lowers the price offered to you.

For example, suppose you spot a sweet sports car in Miami for $45,000. You talk to the dealer and find out the manufacturer has offered a $5,000 rebate. In addition, the dealer agrees to give you a $5,000 discount if you pay cash for the car. Since Florida does not deduct manufacturer's rebates but does deduct discounts, the taxable purchase price for your new ride would be $40,000, meaning you'd owe $2,400 in state sales tax, or $40,000 x 0.06 = $2,400.

County Surtax

Most counties in Florida impose a local surtax. If you live in one of those counties, you're also responsible for paying that amount. Local surtaxes only apply to the first $5,000 of your total purchase price. The local surtax that applies depends on where you live, not where you bought your car.

Since the surtax in Miami-Dade is 1 percent, if you actually live in Miami, you'd need to pay an additional $50 in taxes, or $5,000 x 0.01 = $50. This would mean you'd need to pay a total of $2,450 in sales taxes to drive away in your shiny sports car.

However, the surtax is based on where you live, not where you buy your car. So if you actually live in neighboring Broward County, which has no surtax, you'd only owe the $2,400 in state sales tax.

About the Author

Jennifer Mueller began writing and editing professionally in 1995, when she became sports editor of her university's newspaper while also writing a bi-monthly general interest column for an independent tourist publication. Mueller holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and a Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law.