Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax

Residents of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties who live within the Sound Transit District must pay the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) when they purchase a new or used vehicle or renew their tabs.

The RTA tax helps fund construction and operation of Sound Transit's regional mass transit services. The current voter-approved rate is 1.1%. Learn more about Sound Transit's system expansion.

How we calculate RTA

The RTA tax is a motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) calculated from the depreciated value of your vehicle. It is determined by using a formula based on the vehicle manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP), or purchase price for commercial trucks and commercial trailer, and a depreciation schedule set by state law based on the age of the vehicle (years of service).

RTA calculation formula

Current year - year of vehicle + 1 = years of service (value decreases each year in service)
Original MSRP x depreciated percentage = depreciated value (based on years in service)
Depreciated value x 1.1% (current RTA rate) = RTA amount due


Example for a 2012 Toyota Prius:

MSRP: $24,000

Depreciation years: 2018 (or "current year") - 2012 (year make of vehicle) = 6 + 1 year (to account for first year of offer)= 7 total years of depreciation

7th year depreciation amount = 57% (according to current schedule)

$24,000.00 (original MSRP) x 57% (depreciation) = $13,680.00 (reduced value)

$13,680.00 (reduced value) x 1.1% (current RTA excise tax rate) = $150.00 due

This method of calculating the tax ensures that owners of the same type of vehicle pay the same amount of tax. The MVET value is not based on the fair market value of the vehicle and can be either higher or lower than the vehicle's fair market value or the amount the owner paid for the vehicle.

Disputing your RTA vehicle valuation

If you have questions about your vehicle valuation or to dispute it, call us at 306-902-3770.

State law requires us to use the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) to calculate the tax. When the MSRP isn't available at the time of initial registration in Washington State, we'll determine the value using any guidebook, report, or compendium of recognized standing in the automotive industry, or the selling price and year of sale of the vehicle.

Use our online estimator

You can use Sound Transit's tool to check if you have to pay the RTA tax.

New vehicles

For new vehicles (never owned before), use the Estimate your Regional Transit Authority excise tax tool.

Used vehicles

For used vehicles, you can calculate your vehicle tab fees, which will include a line item for the RTA. You will need the plate number, and either the owner's last name or the last four characters of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Vehicles subject to RTA tax

Passenger cars

Vehicle type Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,000 lbs or less)
Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,001 lbs or more)
Antique car Yes Yes
Cargo van Yes No
Commercial vehicles Yes No
Exempt (state, county, local, tribal) No No
Farm exempt No No
Farm use No No
For hire Yes No
Government (Federal) No No
Medium electric car Yes Yes
Neighborhood electric car Yes Yes
Passenger vehicle Yes Yes
Private school No No
Stage Yes No
Taxi cab Yes Yes

Passenger trucks

Vehicle type Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,000 lbs or less)
Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,001 lbs or more)
Antique truck Yes No
Cargo van Yes No
Combination (farm use) No No
Combination (non-farm use) Yes No
Commercial Yes No
Exempt (state/county/local/tribal) No No
Farm exempt No No
Farm use No No
Fixed load Yes No
For hire Yes No
Government (federal) No No
Logging Yes No
Medium electric truck Yes No
Neighborhood electric truck Yes No
Off road vehicle (ORV) No No
Passenger truck Yes No
Private school truck No No
Stage Yes No
Tow truck Yes No

Trailers

Vehicle type Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,000 lbs or less)
Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,001 lbs or more)
Combination (non-farm use) Yes No
Commercial No No
Government (Federal) No No
Exempt (state/county/local/tribal) No No
Farm exempt No No
House dolly Yes Yes
Intermittent use trailer Yes N/A
Logging No No
Motorcycle trailer - commercial use No No
Personal use trailer Yes N/A
Travel trailer - antique No No
Travel trailer No No

Motorcycle, etc.

Vehicle type Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,000 lbs or less)
Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,001 lbs or more)
Antique motorcycle Yes Yes
Exempt (state/county/local/tribal) No No
Farm exempt No No
Government (Federal) No No
Moped No No
Motorcycle Yes Yes
Off-road motorcycle No No

Off-road, campers, other

Vehicle type Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,000 lbs or less)
Is RTA charged?
(Vehicle scale weight 6,001 lbs or more)
ATV - All Terrain Vehicle (WATV) No No
Converter gear No No
Camper No No
Farm exempt off-road No No
Mobile home No No
Motorhome Yes Yes
Off-road vehicles (ORV) No No
Snowmobile No No

Deducting excise taxes from federal taxes

You may be able to deduct Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Motor Vehicle Excise Tax and Watercraft Excise Tax fees. Check with your tax advisor.

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-902-3770
(TTY: Call 711)
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