Current Washington Residents
If you are a Washington resident and purchase a vehicle outside this state that you then bring into Washington, you owe use tax on the value of that car. Use tax is the same rate as sales tax and is due when property is brought into Washington if sales tax was not paid.
You must pay use tax when you license/register your vehicle. If you can show that you paid sales tax and used the vehicle in another state prior to bringing it into Washington, the tax paid elsewhere will be credited against the Washington use tax you owe. RCW 82.12.035.
Moving to Washington New Residents
- If you purchased a "private motor vehicle" in another state more than 90 days before moving here, you do not owe Washington's use tax. RCW 82.12.0251.
||A "private motor vehicle" is an individually owned motor vehicle used for the personal transportation of the owner, with a load capacity of 1500 pounds or less.
||Pickup trucks with a load capacity greater than 1500 pounds, recreational vehicles, watercraft and trailers do not qualify for this exemption.
- If you purchased a personal vehicle in another state within 90 days of moving here, you owe use tax when you register and license it.
||If you paid sales tax and used the vehicle in another state, you may apply that tax against the Washington use tax you owe. RCW 82.12.035.
Military Personnel Vehicles
For information on the taxability of vehicles purchased or used in Washington by military personnel,
see our Vehicle Sales Tax and Use Tax Requirements for Persons in the Military Services Special Notice.
If you bring a commercial vehicle into this state, use tax is due on the value of the vehicle, no matter how long ago you purchased it.
You must license your vehicle in Washington within 30 days of moving to this state. For more information, visit the Department of Licensing web site.
What amount is used to determine the use tax due?
Use tax is based on the value of the vehicle. Generally this is the amount paid to the seller. However if the payment amount does not represent the value for vehicles of similar make, model, and condition, the value is determined as close as possible to the retail selling price of similar vehicles. RCW 82.12; WAC 458-20-178.
How is the value determined?
Value for vehicles maybe determined by the following:
- Published appraisal guide(s) indicating average retail value
- Bona fide dealer appraisal on letterhead and/or business card, indicating "retail value" for the vehicle
- Estimate of repairs by a bona fide mechanic, which would bring the vehicle up to average retail value
For more information and tips to new residents, visit the Department of Licensing web site.