How to Pay Your Louisiana Excise Tax

Louisiana may not charge an excise tax on vehicles, but the state does require payment of title and registration fees—which is, in many ways, the same thing.
Written by Liz Jenson
Reviewed by Brittni Brinn
doesn’t technically charge an excise tax on vehicle purchases, but you will have to pay the standard 4%
Louisiana vehicle sales tax
, a title fee, and a registration fee when you purchase a new vehicle. 

What is an excise tax in Louisiana?

An excise tax is on a manufactured good, typically one that threatens the environment or the health of the user. Goods that have excise taxes in Louisiana include gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol, and even cell phones!
While Louisiana doesn’t technically charge an excise tax on cars, you will have to pay a Louisiana registration fee and a title fee in order to sell or transfer a vehicle within the state. This payment essentially functions as an excise tax, as it is levied against a manufactured good that poses a threat to the health of the environment.
The difference is that, while a standard excise tax will be paid like sales tax, title and registration fees must be paid directly to the Louisiana Department of Transportation. The payee must also receive documentation that these fees were paid in the form of the vehicle’s registration and title papers. This documentation is required for legal vehicle ownership and regular operation.
Remember, you’ll still have to pay regular state sales tax when you purchase your vehicle, which will add an additional 4% to the overall cost of your vehicle! However, as this is the standard sales tax rate in Louisiana, it is not considered an excise tax on your car.
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Paying the registration fee for your Louisiana vehicle

So, you may be wondering just how much these fees will cost you. First, let’s look at the more complicated of the two: the registration fee.
The cost of registering your vehicle within the state of Louisiana will vary depending on your car’s age, as well as the car’s starting Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) and overall condition. Depending on the value of your vehicle, you could pay anywhere from $20.00 to $82.00 to register your vehicle within the state. This fee is called the road use tax and is required for all vehicles in Louisiana.
You must register your vehicle in Louisiana and pay the associated fee within 40 days of purchase or within 30 days of moving to the state. 
When you visit your local DMV branch to register a car that you just purchased, you’ll need:
If you have a lien on your vehicle, you may need to pay an additional lien holding fee of $10 to $15. This fee will be calculated based on the documentation of your lien that you provide to your local DMV.
When you visit your DMV to register your car after moving to Louisiana, you should bring:
  • A completed Vehicle Application (
    Form DPSMV 1799
  • A valid driver’s license
  • The current title and registration from your previous state of residence
  • Proof of sales tax payment, if you previously paid tax in another state and will be claiming credit for it
  • An odometer disclosure statement
New Louisiana residents may be subjected to some additional fees, particularly if sales tax for the vehicle has not already been paid in another state.

Paying the titling fee for your Louisiana vehicle

Next, let’s take a look at the title fee. In order to get a new title for your car in Louisiana, you’ll pay a titling fee of $68.50. You’ll also have to pay a handling fee of $8.00, bringing the grand total for retitling your vehicle to $76.50
When titling your vehicle in Louisiana, you’ll also need to bring:
  • The vehicle’s license plate number
  • The vehicle’s VIN, make, model, and year
  • The vehicle’s registration proof of ownership
  • Any information about the lien on your vehicle, if you have one

Penalties for nonpayment

Failing to properly title and register your vehicle in Louisiana will cost you money in fees and potentially cause you some legal trouble, too. 
Without registering your vehicle, you won’t be able to display valid license plates, which will typically get you pulled over pretty quickly. If you don’t have proper vehicle documentation, you’ll be charged a fee equal to 25% of the annual cost of the proper license on top of the cost of your registration itself.
If you don’t register or title your vehicle, you might not be considered the legal owner of your vehicle at all. This is because transferring the title of your vehicle into your name is the final step in the car-buying process, so a failure to accomplish this task means that, from a legal standpoint, the vehicle is not yet yours.

How to avoid excise tax in Louisiana

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid these vehicle fees in Louisiana. However, active military members may be exempt from paying Louisiana sales tax. To see if you’re eligible for this exemption, you can discuss your options with your local DMV. Bring your military ID with you in order to prove that you are on active duty!
As far as title and registration fees, though, you’ll find that no one is officially exempt. Unless you want to risk additional fees and the potential loss of your vehicle, it’s best to pay the fees for proper titling and registration.
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