Car Sales Tax in Hawaii

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John Pickhaver
· 4 min read
A state tax rate of 4% applies to all car sales in
, but Hawaii also levies a general excise tax based on vehicle weight, starting at 1.75 cents per pound.
If you’re shopping for cars, you’re probably focused on that sticker price you saw advertised online or in a commercial—but it’s important to factor in all of the additional purchase costs before heading to the dealership. One of the most essential costs in a car purchase is sales tax, but that amount varies depending on where you buy your car.
Although Hawaii maintains a relatively low sales tax rate, it’s unique with its extra tax based on your vehicle’s weight. Combined, they can add up quickly. Luckily, the
car insurance
super app
has compiled a guide to car sales tax in the Aloha State. 

How much is the car sales tax rate in Hawaii?

Hawaii’s statewide sales tax is 4%. This figure may rise to 4.5% if your county is subject to an additional tax. That rate applies to all car purchases, whether you’re buying new or used. 
You’ll also need to pay a general excise tax in addition to the 4% rate. What does that look like, exactly? Here’s how those numbers could look based on your vehicle’s weight:
  • 1.75 cents per pound up to 4,000 lb
  • 2.00 cents per pound for vehicles over 4,000 lb and up to 7,000 lb
  • 2.25 cents a pound for vehicles over 7,000 lb and up to 10,000 lb
  • Vehicles over 10,000 lb shall be taxed at a flat rate of $300

How are car trade-ins taxed in Hawaii? 

If you are purchasing a car at a dealership, odds are you will be able to
trade in an old vehicle
and put the trade-in value toward the purchase of your new car. 
Hawaii, however, is one of seven states where the sales tax still applies to the original total of the vehicle without deducting the credit of the trade-in. 
In other words, if you trade in your old car and get a credit of $3,000 to apply to the price of your new $10,000 car, your total comes down to $7,000. In Hawaii, you still are required to pay the tax on the full $10,000.

How to calculate tax on a car in Hawaii

To calculate what tax on your car in Hawaii will be, combine the statewide sales tax of 4% with vehicle general excise tax according to your vehicle’s weight.
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Exemptions from Hawaii car taxes and fees

All car purchases in Hawaii are typically subject to sales tax and other fees. However, these are some circumstances that allow you to apply for an exemption:
  • Passenger cars owned by a veteran that has a service-connected disability rating of 100% are exempt from payment of all vehicle registration fees
  • Active military members are granted exemptions from vehicle weight tax

How to estimate Hawaii tax, title, and registration fees

Additional costs don’t end with a sales tax when buying a car in Hawaii. It’s important to consider title and registration fees, license plate transfer fees, and the documentation fee that’s commonly charged by dealerships. 
Here’s what you can expect to pay in additional costs when you purchase a car in Hawaii:
Average cost
Sales tax
Registration fee
Title fee
Plate transfer
Documentation fee
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Dealerships may also charge a documentation fee or "doc fee.”  This charge takes care of the costs paid by the dealership for preparing and filing the sales contract, sales tax documents, etc. These fees are in addition to the taxes and DMV fees.
The average doc fee in Hawaii is $250, and Hawaii law does not limit the number of doc fees a dealer can charge

How to find affordable car insurance in Hawaii

Even after you take care of all those other payments and fees, there is still one major expense left:
car insurance
. Fortunately, car insurance policies are relatively cheap in Hawaii—but don’t just take the first deal you see. Find the lowest rates using the
Using Jerry is easy—there’s no complicated math, long wait times, or unexpected phone calls. All you need to do is download the app, put in your information, and then let Jerry will present you with quotes from 50+ top insurance companies. Jerry users save an average of $887 a year on car insurance!
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The sales tax for used cars in Hawaii is the same as for new vehicle purchases. You’ll need to pay a statewide rate of 4% plus a general excise tax which is based on your vehicle’s weight.
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