Sales Tax in Utah for Cars: A Comprehensive Guide


Hello Jake, and welcome to our guide on sales tax for cars in Utah. As you may know, the amount of sales tax you pay on your vehicle purchase can vary depending on several factors, which we’ll explore in detail throughout this article.

Firstly, it’s important to understand what sales tax is and how it’s calculated. In Utah, sales tax is based on the purchase price of the vehicle and is calculated as a percentage of that amount. This percentage can vary depending on the county where you live, so it’s important to know the specific rate in your area before making a purchase.

In this article, we’ll discuss the various factors that can affect your sales tax amount, including vehicle type, financing options, and trade-ins. We’ll also explore the advantages and disadvantages of paying sales tax on your car purchase, and answer some commonly asked questions about Utah’s sales tax policies for vehicles.

Factors Affecting Sales Tax Amount

Vehicle Type

The type of vehicle you’re purchasing can have a big impact on the sales tax you’ll pay in Utah. For example, the state has different tax rates for cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles. Additionally, electric and hybrid vehicles may be eligible for special tax incentives that can reduce your overall tax burden.

Another factor to consider is the age of the vehicle. If you’re purchasing a used car, the sales tax will be based on the vehicle’s fair market value, rather than the purchase price. This can be advantageous if you’re buying a car that has depreciated significantly in value since it was first sold.

Financing Options

If you’re financing your vehicle purchase, you’ll likely be charged sales tax on the full purchase price of the car, even if you’re only making a down payment. However, some lenders may allow you to add the sales tax to your loan amount, which can help you spread out the cost of the tax over the life of the loan.

It’s also worth noting that leasing a vehicle may result in a lower tax burden, as you’ll only pay tax on the monthly lease payments rather than the full purchase price of the car.


If you’re trading in an old vehicle as part of your purchase, the value of that trade-in can be used to offset the sales tax amount you owe. For example, if you’re purchasing a car for $20,000 and trading in a vehicle worth $10,000, you’ll only be taxed on the $10,000 difference.

This can be a great way to reduce your overall tax burden, especially if you’re trading in a car that you no longer need or want.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Paying Sales Tax on Cars


One advantage of paying sales tax on your car purchase is that it can help fund important government services and infrastructure projects. Sales tax revenue is often used to build and maintain roads, bridges, and other public facilities that benefit everyone in the community.

Additionally, paying sales tax can help ensure that everyone is contributing their fair share to the local economy. If some people were allowed to avoid paying sales tax on their vehicle purchases, it could create an unfair advantage for those individuals who could afford to do so.


One major disadvantage of paying sales tax on your car purchase is the additional cost it adds to the overall price of the vehicle. Depending on the purchase price and tax rate in your area, this could add thousands of dollars to the total cost of your car. This can be especially difficult for people on a tight budget or those who are already struggling to afford a new vehicle.

Another potential disadvantage is that sales tax rates can be unpredictable and can change over time. This can make it difficult to accurately budget for your vehicle purchase, and may require you to adjust your plans based on changing tax rates or regulations.

Sales Tax Rates by County

Tax Rate
Box Elder
Salt Lake
San Juan


1. Do I have to pay sales tax on a car I bought out of state?

Yes, if you plan to register and use the vehicle in Utah, you’ll need to pay sales tax on the purchase price.

2. Can I get a refund on sales tax if I return the car?

Yes, if you return the vehicle within a certain timeframe (usually 30 days), you may be eligible for a refund on the sales tax you paid.

3. Are there any exemptions from sales tax for certain groups of people?

Yes, some groups like military members and disabled veterans may be eligible for exemptions or discounts on sales tax for their vehicle purchases. Check with your local DMV or tax office for more information.

4. Can I negotiate the sales tax amount with the dealer?

No, sales tax is set by state and local governments and is non-negotiable.

5. How does trade-in value affect the sales tax amount?

If you’re trading in a vehicle as part of your purchase, the value of that trade-in can be used to offset the sales tax amount you owe. You’ll only be taxed on the difference between the purchase price and the trade-in value.

6. Does the sales tax rate vary depending on the dealership?

No, the sales tax rate is set by the county where you live and is the same regardless of which dealership you purchase from.

7. Can I get a sales tax break for buying an electric or hybrid vehicle?

Yes, Utah offers a tax credit for the purchase of new electric or hybrid vehicles. The credit amount varies depending on the type of vehicle and its battery capacity.

8. Can I pay my sales tax online?

Yes, many counties in Utah offer online payment options for sales tax.

9. What happens if I can’t afford to pay the full sales tax amount?

If you’re unable to pay the full sales tax amount at the time of purchase, you may be able to work out a payment plan with the DMV or tax office. However, this will likely result in additional fees or interest charges.

10. How often do sales tax rates change?

Sales tax rates can change periodically depending on local regulations and economic conditions. It’s important to check with your local DMV or tax office to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

11. Can I deduct sales tax on my vehicle purchase from my taxes?

It may be possible to deduct the sales tax you paid on your vehicle purchase from your federal taxes, depending on your personal tax situation. Consult with a tax professional for more information.

12. What is the penalty for not paying sales tax on my vehicle purchase?

Failure to pay sales tax on your vehicle purchase can result in fines, penalties, or even legal action. It’s important to ensure you’re paying the correct amount of sales tax to avoid these consequences.

13. Can I get a sales tax discount for being a senior citizen?

No, there are no sales tax discounts for senior citizens in Utah. However, some counties may offer property tax exemptions for seniors based on their income or age.


As you can see, there are many factors that can affect the amount of sales tax you’ll pay on your vehicle purchase in Utah. Understanding these factors and how they impact your tax burden can help you make an informed decision when buying a car.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to pay sales tax on your car purchase will depend on your personal financial situation and priorities. While sales tax can add a significant amount to the overall cost of your car, it also helps fund important public services and ensures that everyone is contributing their fair share to the local economy.

If you have any questions or concerns about sales tax for cars in Utah, be sure to consult with your local DMV or tax office for more information.


The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information presented. Any reliance you place on this information is strictly at your own risk.