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Car Financing: Are Taxes and Fees Included?


If you’re thinking about buying a car, you likely know that the advertised price probably won’t be the price you pay. That’s because you’ll have to add taxes and fees, and that means you might end up spending a few thousand dollars more than the price you were initially hoping for.

So when it comes to financing a car, how do you account for taxes and fees? Are they rolled into your payment? Or do you pay them up front? It’s a good question, and we have an explanation.

How to Know if Car Taxes and Dealer Fees Are Included

If you finance a car through a dealership, car taxes and dealer fees are almost always included in the payment. That’s because the finance amount is usually based on the car’s out-the-door price, which includes all taxes, fees, and additional extras, such as an extended warranty.

That’s why adding a dealer option will slightly increase your monthly payment, because it’s rolled into the financing. It’s also why, in many states, the dealer can get your license plates for you because they’ve collected the taxes you owe on the vehicle.

Read our story about dealer fees and destination charges to learn the breakdown of costs.

When Car Taxes and Fees Are Not Included

There are, however, times when taxes and fees don’t get included in your vehicle financing. The primary example of this is when you’ve arranged your own car financing. Typically when you arrange your own financing, you’re buying a used car from a private seller or you receive an excellent interest rate from your bank or credit union for a new or used vehicle and choose to use their services rather than a dealership’s financing.

In many cases, taxes and fees can be included in this type of financing. You’ll just have to plan for it.

Show up at your dealer with a $25,000 bank check for a $25,000 car, for instance, and you’ll run into some problems. But if you have the dealer tell you the out-the-door price before you get the bank check, you should avoid any issues.

If you buy a car privately, however, you generally won’t be able to roll taxes and fees into the loan. That’s because a private seller isn’t set up to collect taxes for the state, and that means you’ll usually be on the hook for these taxes when the time comes to register the car. In some cases, you might be able to ask your bank for a little extra money on the loan to cover this sort of situation, but they might not always provide it.

What About Leasing?

Most states treat the taxes on leased cars just like they do regular financing. That means you’ll be able to roll the sales tax and other fees into the lease payment rather than pay up front.

However, some states make you pay the full amount of a car’s sales tax when signing a lease. This may seem like a big number but just remember: You would’ve paid this figure anyway had you rolled it into your lease payments.

Best Lease Deals

Related Car Financing Articles:

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated for accuracy since it was originally published.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve leased a Ford through Ford credit and I was told by the dealership that they require excise tax be paid in your payment.  However, they then apply sales tax to the full payment.  Shouldn’t the sales tax come after the base payment?  Doesn’t this mean they’re taxing the tax?  And obviously, I’m paying more because of there formula.  The worst part is that excise tax is rolled into my payment and therefore no way to deduct the amount of the tax come tax time as I’ve done on every one of my cars.  It seems like a ruse to get more money from me except I can’t figure out who benefits…I know it’s not me.

  2. what if you pay the taxes and fees up front yourself? And how does this works when your buying a vehicle outside of your state?

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