How to Pay Taxes on a Vehicle in Texas

by Leslie McClintock

The state of Texas levies a tax on the sale of all motor vehicles within the state -- including private party sales. That means you don't have to be a professional dealer in order to be liable for the tax. The motor vehicle sales and use tax applies to all vehicle sales,new or used, by Texas residents. For new vehicle sales by dealers, the state calculates the tax based on the vehicle's retail sales price. For private party and used vehicle sales, the state uses the standard presumptive value for that make, model and year.

Identify your county tax office. Vehicle taxes in Texas are administered at the county level. You can find a link to county tax assessor/collectors for your county in the Resources section.

Locate the standard presumptive value for your vehicle, using the link in Resources. Your tax liability is based on the standard presumptive value for your vehicle. You will need to enter the vehicle identification number and the odometer reading of the vehicle into the site. As of May 2011, the tax is 6.5 percent of the vehicle SPV, or on the actual purchase price, whichever is higher.

Pay your tax bill, either by check or online via a credit card to your county tax office. Each county has slightly different procedures. Check your county website for details.


  • Some transactions are exempt from the motor vehicle sales and use tax. Generally, sales of vehicles over 25 years old, gifts and "even-swap" exchanges of two vehicles of the same value are not subject to the tax.

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