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Motor vehicle and car stamp duty explained

Buying a car? Here’s everything you need to know about the stamp duty that applies to your new set of wheels.

If you’re planning on buying a new or used car, did you know that you’ll need to pay stamp duty on your purchase? Stamp duty is a tax imposed by state governments when you transfer ownership of a vehicle, so you’ll need to include it in your calculations when working out the total cost of buying a car.

However, car stamp duty is calculated differently from one Australian state or territory to the next, so where you live will affect how much duty you need to pay when buying a car.

What is motor vehicle stamp duty?

Stamp duty is a tax you need to pay whenever you buy a car. Imposed by state governments, it applies regardless of whether you are buying a new or used vehicle.

But why do you need to pay it? Stamp duty is designed to cover the cost of transferring registration of a vehicle, so you’ll need to factor this expense into your calculations regardless of whether you buy your next set of wheels from a dealer or a private seller.

Car stamp duty is defined and calculated by state and territory governments around Australia, so you may know it by a slightly different name depending on where you live. When you see terms like motor vehicle duty, vehicle registration duty and motor vehicle stamp duty, they all refer to the same thing.

How much stamp duty do I need to pay?

The stamp duty payable on a new or used vehicle varies from state to state. Read on for a state-by-state breakdown of the cost of buying a car where you live.

New South Wales

When you apply to register a vehicle in NSW, or transfer registration, you’ll need to pay motor vehicle duty. Duty is calculated on the full value of a new vehicle, or the sale price or market value (whichever is greater) of a used vehicle.

The current motor vehicle duty rates in NSW are shown in the table below:

ValueDuty payable
Under $45,000$3 per $100 value (3%)
$45,000 or more$1,350 + $5 per $100 (5%) value

Queensland

VicRoads collects motor vehicle duty on behalf of the government’s State Revenue Office. The duty payable varies depending on the value of the vehicle and whether you are buying new or used, as per the table below.

Type of vehicleDuty rate
  • Hybrid vehicles
  • Electric vehicles
$2 for each $100 of the vehicle's dutiable value (2%)
  • 1 to 4 cylinders
  • 2 rotors
$3 for each $100 of the vehicle's dutiable value (3%)
  • 5 or 6 cylinders
  • 3 rotors
$3.50 for each $100 of the vehicle’s dutiable value (3.5%)
  • 7 or more cylinders
$4 for each $100 of the vehicle’s dutiable value (4%)

Victoria

In Victoria your stamp duty is different depending on whether you're buying new or used, and the type of vehicle.

The following numbers are current as of September 2017. Vehicle value thresholds may be adjusted regularly.

Vehicle typeNew or usedVehicle market valueDutiable rate
Passenger vehicleNewUnder $65,095$8.40 per $200
$65,095+$10.40 per $200
DemonstratorAny$8.40 per $200
Motorcycles and non-passenger vehiclesNewAny$5.40 per $200
All other vehiclesNew or usedAny$8.40 per $200

Australian Capital Territory

In the ACT, vehicles are categorised and taxed based on their environmental performance.

Performance ratingDescriptionCO2 emissions per km
AEnvironmental leading-edge models0–130
BModels with environmental performance that is significantly above average131–175
CModels with average environmental performance176–220
DModels with below average environmental performanceMore than 220

For vehicles $45,000 or less, duty must be paid at the following rates:

  • A-rated vehicle: no duty payable
  • B-rated vehicle: $1 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle
  • C-rated vehicle and non-rated vehicle: $3 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle
  • D-rated vehicle: $4 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle

For vehicles valued at more than $45,000, the following duty applies:

  • A-rated vehicle: no duty payable
  • B-rated vehicle: $450, plus $2 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle that is more than $45,000
  • C-rated vehicle and non-rated vehicle: $1,350, plus $5 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle that is more than $45,000
  • D-rated vehicle: $1,800, plus $6 for each $100, or part of $100, of the value of the vehicle that is more than $45,000

Western Australia

Vehicle licence duty in WA is paid to the Office of State Revenue. It is calculated as a percentage of a vehicle’s dutiable value, and the following rates apply to vehicles with a gross mass of 4.5 tonnes or less.

Heavy vehicles with a gross mass over 4.5 tonnes are taxed at a flat 3% of dutiable value, to a maximum of $12,000.

The dutiable value is the manufacturer's price, or the reasonable open market price of a used car.

Vehicle valueDuty payable
Up to $25,000$2.75 for each $100 of the vehicle's dutiable value
$25,001 to $50,000$2.75 for each $100 of the vehicle's dutiable value, plus an additional amount.

The formula is [2.75% + ((dutiable value - 25,000)/6,666.66)]

Over $50,000$6.50 for each $100 of the vehicle's dutiable value (6.%)

Northern territory

In the NT, motor vehicle stamp duty is simply 3% of the dutiable value for all passenger vehicles, but the dutiable value might vary, based on whether it's an arm's length transaction or a non arm's length transaction.

  • Arm's length transaction. This is when the buyer and seller have independent interests. For example, a car dealer or previous owner selling to a member of the public. The vehicle's sale value is used to calculate dutiable value.
  • Non-arm's length transaction. This is when the buyer and seller share interests. For example, if they are related, or work for the same business. The vehicle's market value is used to calculate dutiable value.
  • Sale value. The purchase price of the car, including all fitted accessories and applicable discounts.
  • Market value. The reasonable value of the car on the open market, rather than the amount paid for it.

Tasmania

Vehicle stamp duty in Tasmania is based on the vehicle's value on the market.

  • Up to $600: A flat $20
  • $600 to $34,999: $3 per $100 market value (3%)
  • $35,000 to $39,999: A flat $1,050 plus $11 per $100, or part thereof, over $35,000
  • $45,000 and over: $4 per $100 or part thereof (4%).

When will I not have to pay car stamp duty?

There are some situations when you will not be required to pay any stamp duty on the transfer of ownership of a vehicle. For example, no stamp duty is payable if:

  • A vehicle is left to you in a will
  • A vehicle is awarded to you as part of a divorce settlement
  • Your vehicle has previously been registered in another state or territory and you have already paid interstate duty
  • You’re an eligible war veteran

If you think you might be eligible for an exemption, contact the revenue office in your state or territory for more details.
Picture: Shutterstock

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