Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax

Residents of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties who live within the Sound Transit District ( are required to pay the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) tax upon purchase or renewal of a new or used vehicle. This tax helps fund construction and operation of Sound Transit's regional mass transit services. In 2016, voters in the Sound Transit district approved an additional tax of 0.8% for regional transit expansions, raising the rate to 1.1%. The increase applies to vehicles with tabs beginning or renewing on or after March 1, 2017.

For more information on Sound Transit's system expansion, please visit Sound Transit.

How is the RTA tax calculated?

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).

The following formula shows how the fee is calculated:

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.

When is the RTA tax collected?

  • When you renew your tabs.
  • When you purchase a new or used vehicle and register it in your name.

Can I dispute my RTA vehicle valuation?

Yes. If you have questions about your vehicle valuation or to dispute it, contact us:

  • Phone: 360.902.3770
  • Call 711

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

Find out if you're required to pay and get an estimate of the fee:

Which types of vehicles are 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

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


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.

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

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

Can I deduct any of my fees from my federal taxes?

Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Motor Vehicle Excise Tax and Watercraft Excise Tax may be deductible. Check with your tax advisor.

What did I pay for RTA taxes on my last renewal?

For tax purposes, you may want to know your previous year's RTA fee. You can find this amount in the box labeled RTA on your vehicle registration.

Related information

Questions? Need help?

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