How much is stamp duty when buying a car?

author-avatar By on June 18, 2019
How much is stamp duty when buying a car?

Photo by Beka Tasmagambet on Unsplash

Also known as motor vehicle duty, or registration duty, stamp duty is payable on all new and used cars. Here we’ll explain what it is and how much it can cost.

What is vehicle stamp duty? 

Stamp duty is a tax levied by state governments on the transfer of ownership of an asset. It’s probably most well-known as a tax on the purchase or sale of a house, but it also applies to vehicles as well. That’s why you have to pay it whenever you buy a new or used car, with a few exceptions. 

Stamp duty on a vehicle is a one-off payment, so there are no ongoing costs to worry about. But it can be pretty expensive, often costing a few hundred dollars depending on the car being bought

One thing to be aware of with stamp duty is whether the cost is included in the price. This is the case with cars bought from dealerships – the ‘driveaway price’ you might see in an ad is usually inclusive of stamp duty, whereas a car bought from a private sale is not. If bought through a private seller, stamp duty is instead paid at the state or territory’s road office after the purchase is complete. 

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    Stamp duty on used cars

    Yes, stamp duty applies to used cars too. Most state governments don’t calculate stamp duty based on whether the car is ‘used’ or ‘new, with the exception of Victoria. Stamp duty is instead calculated on a scale which increases with the price of the car. So a used Lamborghini could have a higher stamp duty fee than a new Toyota Corolla. 

    How much is stamp duty on a car? 

    The cost of stamp duty varies depending on the state the car is registered in and the price of the car. There are other factors too, like what type of car it is and how ‘green‘ the engine is. 

    We’ll go over the stamp duty rates for each state and territory below, and we’ll also use Australia’s most popular car, the Toyota Hilux, as an example of how much stamp duty the average person might pay in that state. According to carsguide.com.au, the Toyota Hilux has a median price of $42,340, so that’s what we’ll use. 

    NSW | VIC | QLD | SA | WA | TAS | ACT | NT |

    Stamp duty on New South Wales cars

    According to the NSW Department of Revenue, stamp duty on cars is calculated using a simple price method: 

    Vehicle value Duty payable 
    Up to $44,999 $3 for every $100
    $45,000 or more* $1,350, plus $5 for every $100

    Based on these criteria, a median-priced Toyota Hilux would cost roughly $1,270. A more expensive model (over $45,000) would cost about $3,470, give or take a few dollars. 

    Stamp duty on Victorian cars

    According to the Victorian State Revenue Office, stamp duty is dependent on the type of vehicle and, in some cases, whether the car is new or used. Victoria is the only state to take the new/used status of a car into account in its stamp duty calculations. 

    Type of vehicle New vehicle rate Used vehicle rate 
    Passenger car: $0 – $66,331 $8.40 per $200 or part thereof $8.40 per $200 or part thereof
    Luxury passenger car: More than $66,331 $10.40 per $200 or part thereof $8.40 per $200 or part thereof
    Non-passenger car: Any value $5.40 per $200 or part thereof $8.40 per $200 or part thereof
    Demonstrator passenger car: $0 – $66,331 $8.40 per $200 or part thereof Not applicable
    Demonstrator passenger car: More than $66,331 $10.40 per $200 or part thereof Not applicable

    So a new Toyota Hilux at the median market value in Victoria would come with a stamp duty fee of roughly $1,780.

    Stamp duty on Queensland cars

    The Queensland Government states stamp duty is calculated based on the engine of the car. It also has a very broad threshold, with different stamp duty costs for cars depending on whether they’re over or under $100,000. 

    Under $100,000 Over $100,000 
    Hybrid and electric vehicles $2 per $100 or part of $100 $4 per $100 or part of $100
    1 to 4 cylinders, 2 rotors or a steam vehicle $3 per $100 or part of $100 $5 per $100 or part of $100
    5 to 6 cylinders, 3 rotors $3.5 per $100 or part of $100 $5.50 per $100 or part of $100
    7 or more cylinders $4 per $100 or part of $100 $6 per $100 or part of $100

    A 4-cylinder Toyota Hilux would attract a stamp duty charge of about $1,270 in Queensland, similar to what it would cost in New South Wales.

    Stamp duty on South Australian cars

    South Australia calculates stamp duty based on whether it’s a commercial or non-commercial vehicle, in addition to price. For non-commercial vehicles, stamp duty costs the following: 

    Value Stamp duty cost
    Does not exceed $1000 $1 for every $100 or part of $100 with a minimum of $5 payable in all cases
    Exceeds $1000 but not $2000 $10 plus $2 for every $100 or part of $100 over $1000
    Exceeds $2000 but not $3000 $30 plus $3 for every $100 or part of $100 over $2000
    Exceeds $3000 $60 plus $4 for every $100 or part of $100 over $3000

    Stamp duty on a non-commercial Toyota Hilux would cost about $1,630 in South Australia. 

    Stamp duty on West Australian cars

    Western Australia has one of the more complicated methods of calculating stamp duty on cars. According to the state’s Department of Transport, stamp duty is calculated based on the ‘dutiable value’ of the car, which is either the listed price for a new car or a reasonable market value for used cars. 

    Value Stamp duty 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 (6.5%)

    Based on these calculations, a $42,340 Hilux has a dutiable value rate of 5.35%. This works out to be $2,265. 

    Stamp duty on Tasmanian cars

    Tasmania has a much simpler way of calculating stamp duty: it just uses the market price of the car, according to the State Revenue Office.

    Dutiable Value Stamp Duty Rate
    $600 and below $20
    $601 to $35,000 $3 for every $100 or part of $100
    $35,001 to $40,000 $1050, plus $11 for every $100 or part of over $35,000
    $40,001 and above $4 for every $100 or part of $100

    In this instance, the Toyota Hilux would have a stamp duty fee of just under $1,700. 

    Stamp duty on ACT cars

    According to its website, the ACT Revenue Office calculates stamp duty based on its ‘green’ classification. An A-grade vehicle – one with 130 or fewer carbon emissions per gram – pays no stamp duty, while a D-grade one with more than 220 pays much more. 

    Green vehicle class  Price: Up to $45,000 Price: Over $45,000 
    A 0 0
    B $1 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value $450 plus $2 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value
    C $3 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value $1350 plus $5 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value
    D $4 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value $1800 plus $6 for every $100 or part of $100 of the dutiable value

    The Toyota Hilux has 223 grams per kilometre in emissions, according to Car Advice. This classes it as a D-grade vehicle, which means it would have a payable stamp duty of about $1,700. 

    Stamp duty on Northern Territory cars

    The Northern Territory arguably has the simplest way of calculating stamp duty: all passenger vehicles are charged 3% on the dutiable value of the car, so we’ll take those nerd tables out of here. 

    Our example Hilux would, therefore, cost an extra $1,272 after stamp duty. 

    How you can calculate stamp duty on your car 

    You can see in the tables above and the examples given that stamp duty costs don’t vary too much from state to state, assuming you’re buying the same car. After compiling all these examples into the table below, it would seem in this instance that Western Australia is the most expensive while the likes of the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland are the cheapest.

    State or Territory  Estimated stamp duty cost 
    VIC $1,780 
    NSW $1,270
    QLD $1,270
    SA $1,630
    WA $2,265
    TAS $1,700 
    ACT $1,700
    NT  $1,270 

    But this is just for one car – the results could very easily vary with a higher or lower purchase price, or with used or more environmentally friendly cars. That’s why you should either calculate your stamp duty fee yourself using the above calculations or use your state’s stamp duty calculator. 

    The links to these calculators are listed below: 

    Check these pages as well for more state-accurate information about stamp duty. 

    Can you avoid paying stamp duty on a car?

    There are some exceptions to paying stamp duty on new and used car purchases, although this is limited to select situations. To name a few, you can avoid paying stamp duty if: 

    • You’re on a disability pension 
    • The vehicle is being used primarily to transport another disabled person 
    • You’re an eligible war veteran 
    • The vehicle was left to you in a will 
    • The vehicle was a part of a divorce settlement 
    • You’ve already paid stamp duty in another state and have since moved 
    • The vehicle is being used for charity (in some states)

    Seniors and pensioners with the relevant cards aren’t exempt from paying stamp duty but can be exempt from paying other car buying fees, such as their registration fee. 

    In most cases though, stamp duty must be paid. The taxman will have his due.

    Savings.com.au’s two cents 

    Stamp duty can be an expensive fee, so it’s important you don’t forget about it in your car buying budget (which you should have!). 

    Riz Akhtar, Founder of Melbourne car savings startup Carloop, told Savings.com.au many buyers don’t consider the costs of stamp duty in the amount they set out to borrow. 

    “Car buyers are then slugged with this after the purchase, and on a $25,000 car, this could be over $1,000, which buyers did not factor in before buying the car,” Mr Akhtar said. 

    “They would then need to either pull into their savings to get the car transferred into their name or borrow it from their family, friends or even the banks.

    “It’s always best to work out the stamp duty costs before applying for a loan so there are no unexpected surprises at the end.”

    Our calculations above show it can easily be $1,000+, or $2,000 in some cases. And the more expensive the car gets, the more expensive stamp duty can be. So avoid the situation where you spend 100% of your car money before realising you still need to shell out a bit more for stamp duty. 

    This, of course, applies only to cars bought through a private sale, but you should still factor in stamp duty to the driveaway price from a dealership. Ask them how much stamp duty you’re paying if it isn’t made clear. 


    Disclaimers

    The entire market was not considered in selecting the above products. Rather, a cut-down portion of the market has been considered which includes retail products from at least the big four banks, the top 10 customer-owned institutions and Australia’s larger non-banks:

    • The big four banks are: ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac
    • The top 10 customer-owned Institutions are the ten largest mutual banks, credit unions and building societies in Australia, ranked by assets under management in November 2019. They are (in descending order): Great Southern Bank, Newcastle Permanent, Heritage Bank, Peoples’ Choice Credit Union, Teachers Mutual Bank, Greater Bank, IMB Bank, Beyond Bank, Bank Australia and P&N Bank.
    • The larger non-bank lenders are those who (in 2020) has more than $9 billion in Australian funded loans and advances. These groups are: Resimac, Pepper, Liberty and Firstmac.
    • If you click on a product link and you are referred to a Product or Service Provider’s web page, it is highly likely that a commercial relationship exists between that Product or Service Provider and Savings.com.au

    Some providers' products may not be available in all states.

    In the interests of full disclosure, Savings.com.au, Performance Drive and Loans.com.au are part of the Firstmac Group. To read about how Savings.com.au manages potential conflicts of interest, along with how we get paid, please click through onto the web site links.

    *The Comparison rate is based on a $30,000 loan over 5 years. Warning: this comparison rate is true only for this example and may not include all fees and charges. Different terms, fees or other loan amounts might result in a different comparison rate.

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    author-avatar
    William Jolly joined Savings.com.au as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.

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