British couple buying RV in the US

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KatTab

Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Posts
6
Location
U.K.
Hello. We are a British couple with long stay US visas. We want to buy a RV to travel round the US and Canada (and possibly down to S America) for a couple of years. We are experienced campervanners and will buy an RV that will allow us to get off the beaten track (Not too large and maybe 4x4). We will sell the RV in the US when we finish our trip. We are planning ahead for next year, but need to start our research now. We do not need finance.
We have friends in South Carolina, Georgia and California who have said that we can use their address. Sales tax is South Carolina 5% (max 500$), Georgia 6.6% and California 7.25%.
So the first question is - which of these states would be best to buy and then sell a RV.
We understand that in California that pollution laws may effect the type of vehicle we are allowed to buy.
We are assuming that it might be easier to register the vehicle in the same state as the address, but this may not be the case.
We are unclear as to whether we need to pay property tax as well as sales tax (we do not own property in the US).
We will have many more questions, but these are the things we need to know to start the process.
Thank you for helping us with our first steps.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,489
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Hi & welcome!

Sales taxes are collected from the buyer, either at the time of the transaction (at a registered dealer) or when the buyer obtains the vehicle title in his own state (private sale). Therefore you need only be concerned about where you buy your RV.

About 1/2 of the US states have an annual personal property tax that applies to any vehicles you own (South Carolina & California included). It is a separate tax from any that may apply to real property, so ownership of land or a residence does not affect the tax status of any vehicle.

You might find it advantageous to form a corporation in a low-tax state to own the RV and title & register (license tags) in that state. Montana is a popular choice for that.

Note also that vehicle insurance rates vary widely by location, so you may want to consider that as well. However, as non-US residents with no US insurance history, you will probably pay the highest rates anyway.

Dd you notice we have a section of this site dedicated to people like yourselves? It's titled Visitors to the USA.
 

KatTab

Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Posts
6
Location
U.K.
Thank you. We dont want to set up a corporation, so will use one of ours friends address. When we buy a RV, we know that we have to pay sales tax. Do we have to pay property tax as well? How do we find out about this?
 

UTTransplant

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Jul 20, 2014
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2,640
Location
Cedar Falls, IA
Gary, sales tax is not always paid to the dealer in a dealer sale. We bought our motorhome from an out of state dealer using our home address for the purchase. We paid sales tax in our home state when we registered the motorhome.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,489
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
Gary, sales tax is not always paid to the dealer in a dealer sale. We bought our motorhome from an out of state dealer using our home address for the purchase. We paid sales tax in our home state when we registered the motorhome.
Yeah, a few states allow that for out-of-state buyers. Rules vary from state to state and I didn't want to get bogged down in the details for all 50. The dealer is responsible for collecting sales taxes in all states, but sometimes a sale will be exempt from state & local sales taxes. Further, most states will give credit for sales tax paid in another state, so that there is seldom a double-tax burden. Too many variations to address them all, but these wrinkles need to be investigated once before any actual purchase or choice of title-state.
 

SeilerBird

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15,797
Location
St Cloud Florida USA
Thank you. We dont want to set up a corporation, so will use one of ours friends address. When we buy a RV, we know that we have to pay sales tax. Do we have to pay property tax as well? How do we find out about this?
You do not pay property tax since an RV is not property. You will pay sales tax to whatever state you register it in. I suggest trying PPL in Houston. A great place to find reasonably priced RVs and a great place to sell it when you are done. They are a consignment only dealership.

 

TonyL

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Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Posts
331
Location
UK
Hi and welcome to the forum.
We both retired at the end of 2018 and like you, decided we wanted to tour the US and Canada. We decided to purchase a fifth wheel and suitable tow vehicle, as that seemed the best option to us. We did not have any friends in the US where we could use as a mail address so we went down the route of setting up an LLC. In our case, the savings against buying in a tax state were/are too big to be ignored. We found a very helpful company in Montana and to date we could not be happier. The only thing we have yet to discover is what happens when we come to sell the assets, but we are assured it will all be straight forward. the legality for a UK resident of setting an LLC is well documented, and we have been totally honest with the company that formed it, so as to stay within the law. We also use them as a mail drop address, and this has enabled us to set up and open a US bank account. We also bought without finance as that seems the safest route.
There are some challenges in doing what we and you want to do, but nothing too daunting especially with the help of the folks on this forum. I doubt that we would have achieved our goal as easily without the help we got.
There are several other couples in the UK doing what you intend, and each will no doubt be very helpful in assisting you. Jackiemac and her knowledge is worth its weight in gold. What I will say is if in doubt ask, and ask as many questions as you need. No question is stupid, only not asking them. You already have your visas, so you are part way there.
To give you even a fraction of what we have learnt would take an eternity for me to type, so if you want to talk to us on the phone, drop me a PM once you are able (as a newbie, the site moderators may restrict what you can do for a very short while) We will be very happy to help you if we can.
Good luck with your search, and who knows, perhaps we can arrange a brits abroad rally in the future!
Hope to hear from you soon.
good luck
TonyL
 

Larry N.

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May 26, 2010
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7,720
Location
Westminster, Colorado
You do not pay property tax since an RV is not property. You will pay sales tax to whatever state you register it in. I suggest trying PPL in Houston. A great place to find reasonably priced RVs and a great place to sell it when you are done. They are a consignment only dealership.

While that's true in many places, there are some states where property tax is a different animal from a real estate tax, and IS assessed on vehicles and other large purchases. The term "property tax" doesn't seem to be consistent.

In Colorado, for example, you pay what is effectively "property tax" on vehicles as part of the license plate fee, decreasing each year (to a point) as the vehicle ages.
 

Oldgator73

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Joined
Dec 28, 2017
Posts
3,219
We lived in Missouri for about two years. You have to pay property tax on everything; boat, ATV, lawnmower, your kids if they have wheels, everything. And if you haven’t paid your property tax you can’t register your car.
 

Isaac-1

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Joined
Dec 3, 2016
Posts
4,567
Location
SW Louisiana
This brings up the point of registration cost, which is the amount you pay for license plates, depending on the state this may be yearly, 2 years or even 4 year registration, the registration cost also varies considerably, in some states it can run thousands of dollars per year, in others it is very little, Louisiana where I live my motorhome registration is only $26 per year, of course Louisiana gets you with tax at time of purchase which is around 9%, if you move into the state (become permanent residents) you have to pay 9% use tax on the book value of any vehicle you already own. The underlying point is each state is different, and each one will tend to take money from you in several ways, most commonly as sales tax at time of purchase, or as recurring registration fees (license plate fee), in addition to that some states get property tax from vehicles, also many states have safety inspection stickers, which may or may not include smog testing. In my part of my state we have safety inspection stickers, without smog testing, though smog testing is also required in some more populated parts of the state, for us the inspection sticker is $10 per year, (1 or 2 year stickers sold), test involves blowing the horn, and testing turn signals and brake lights. (funds from this goes to the state police retirement fund).
 

KatTab

Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Posts
6
Location
U.K.
Hi and welcome to the forum.
We both retired at the end of 2018 and like you, decided we wanted to tour the US and Canada. We decided to purchase a fifth wheel and suitable tow vehicle, as that seemed the best option to us. We did not have any friends in the US where we could use as a mail address so we went down the route of setting up an LLC. In our case, the savings against buying in a tax state were/are too big to be ignored. We found a very helpful company in Montana and to date we could not be happier. The only thing we have yet to discover is what happens when we come to sell the assets, but we are assured it will all be straight forward. the legality for a UK resident of setting an LLC is well documented, and we have been totally honest with the company that formed it, so as to stay within the law. We also use them as a mail drop address, and this has enabled us to set up and open a US bank account. We also bought without finance as that seems the safest route.
There are some challenges in doing what we and you want to do, but nothing too daunting especially with the help of the folks on this forum. I doubt that we would have achieved our goal as easily without the help we got.
There are several other couples in the UK doing what you intend, and each will no doubt be very helpful in assisting you. Jackiemac and her knowledge is worth its weight in gold. What I will say is if in doubt ask, and ask as many questions as you need. No question is stupid, only not asking them. You already have your visas, so you are part way there.
To give you even a fraction of what we have learnt would take an eternity for me to type, so if you want to talk to us on the phone, drop me a PM once you are able (as a newbie, the site moderators may restrict what you can do for a very short while) We will be very happy to help you if we can.
Good luck with your search, and who knows, perhaps we can arrange a brits abroad rally in the future!
Hope to hear from you soon.
good luck
TonyL
 

KatTab

Member
Joined
May 11, 2021
Posts
6
Location
U.K.
Thanks Tony. We had discounted the LLC in Montana, but your response may change this. Could you please give me the name of the company you used and I will contact them. Which state did you buy, register and insure your vehicle? What was the cost of setting up an LLC?
 

TonyL

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Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Posts
331
Location
UK
Bought registered and insured in Montana. Kalispell has no additional local taxes to add either. Cost will depend on what type of unit you are thinking of getting. See private conversation for more info.
Regards
Tony
 

TonyL

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2017
Posts
331
Location
UK
Thanks Tony. We had discounted the LLC in Montana, but your response may change this. Could you please give me the name of the company you used and I will contact them. Which state did you buy, register and insure your vehicle? What was the cost of setting up an LLC?

Bought registered and insured in Montana. Kalispell has no additional local taxes to add either. Cost will depend on what type of unit you are thinking of getting. See private conversation for more info.
Regards
Tony
 
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