Tax on Purchasing a Vehicle in Wisconsin

Car sellers might not mention the taxes attached to buying a car until after you sign.

Unexpected costs can shock car buyers and sellers, especially if they are new to an area and unfamiliar with local tax laws. Wisconsin requires buyers to pay certain taxes when purchasing a vehicle. Avoid surprises and review the tax liability associated with buying a car in Wisconsin before you negotiate the price for your next vehicle.


Sales Tax

The sales tax rate in Wisconsin is 5 percent of the sales price. Retailers must collect sales tax and pay it to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. If you buy a $10,000 car, for instance, you will pay an additional $500 in sales tax. Nonresidents and part-year residents are not exempt from paying sales tax on cars bought in Wisconsin.

Local Sales Taxes

As of 2011, 62 counties in Wisconsin collect a county sales tax of 0.5 percent. Add this 0.5 percent to the state sales tax if you buy the car in one of these counties. For example, if you buy a $10,000 car, you will pay $500 in state tax and $50 in county sales tax.


Wheel Tax

Wheel tax is another name for the annual municipal or county vehicle registration fee certain Wisconsin cities and counties charge. Wisconsin legislation allows local governments to charge a wheel tax, but does not determine its amount. However, local governments must use all revenue from the wheel tax toward transportation-related costs. As of 2011, the cities of Beloit, Maybille and Milwaukee as well as the county of St. Croix charge a wheel tax.

Title Fees

Although title fees are not, strictly speaking, taxes, they are an added cost to buying a car that must be paid to the Department of Transportation of Wisconsin. These fees include license plate fees, counter service fees, a disabled parking ID card fee and an online registration renewal fee.


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