Used Car Tax

Buying a used vehicle may become more expensive after this weekend. A new state law takes affect that changes how vehicle sales and use tax is calculated on used cars. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports.

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Before this weekend, when a used vehicle was sold, the tax would be based on what the car was sold for, or what the purchaser claimed to have bought the car for. Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Paul Bettencourt says the new state law requires that the tax be based on the actual value of the car, not necessarily the sale price.

"You can sell it for whatever you want to however when you go to pay the tax on the title transfer, you have to be at 80 percent of what they call the standard presumptive value. And when you do that it means that unless you can be in appraisal that says why that car should be worth less, you're going to have to pay the tax on 80 percent of the book value of that vehicle is."

The new law, which takes affect this weekend, is part of the school finance bill and is expected to bring in an estimated 30 million dollars over the next two years. The Texas Department of Transportation is required to determine and publish the Standard Presumptive Value of a vehicle. A Harris County website has a calculator to determine the tax. A link to both sites can be found at KUHF dot org. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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