Vehicle tax exemptions for military personnel

Learn how to qualify for excise and regional transit authority (RTA) tax exemptions for non-residents stationed in Washington and Washington residents stationed outside of the state.

Nonresidents stationed in Washington

If you are stationed in Washington state you may qualify for tax exemptions.

Excise tax and RTA tax

You may not have to pay vehicle excise tax or regional transit authority (RTA) tax when you license your vehicle in Washington if you're:

  • An active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces
  • A U.S. Public Health Officer
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency personnel
  • Coast Guard personnel living in Washington and assigned to duty in the Portland, Oregon area

How to get excise and RTA exemptions

To qualify for these exemptions when you license your vehicle in Washington, you must:

  1. Certify your home of record is in a state or country other than Washington
  2. Be the registered owner or co-registered owner of the vehicle or boat that is subject to the tax
  3. Complete an Non-Resident Military Affidavit for Exemption of Excise Tax
  4. Present a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) showing your home of record

Sales and use tax

If you'll be in Washington for less than 90 days, you may be exempt from paying sales or use tax when you buy a car in Washington.

To qualify, you must have a copy of your orders showing that you're temporarily stationed in Washington or that you're permanently reassigned to a new duty station and will leave within 90 days of the date of purchase.

Exemptions for spouses

The spouse of a military member may be exempt from paying RTA tax if:

  • The military member is the owner or co-owner of the vehicle
  • The military member is on active duty
  • The spouse has a military ID card

Washington residents stationed outside the state

If you are a Washington state resident and are stationed outside of the state you may qualify for tax exemptions.

Sales or use tax

If you purchase a vehicle while you're stationed out of state and license it in Washington, you may not have to pay Washington state sales tax if you're a resident of Washington serving outside the state as:

  • An active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces
  • A U.S. Public Health Officer
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency personnel

You may also not have to pay Washington state sales tax if all of the following apply to you:

  • You're on active duty over six months
  • You got the vehicle at least 30 days before discharge
  • You purchased and took delivery of the vehicle outside of Washington state

You can't get this exemption if you:

  • Are on active duty for training purposes for less than six months
  • Bought the vehicle less than 30 days before being discharged or released from active duty

Related laws

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