In the state of Florida, an individual is required to pay a sales and use tax on the purchase price of mobile homes or recreational vehicles (RVs). The term RV covers a travel trailer, camping trailer, truck camper, motor home, private motor coach, van conversion, park trailer and fifth-wheel trailer. The sales tax is due on the sales price of the motor vehicle.
There may be a separate tax due on any accessory sold with the vehicle; preparation, settlement or closing fees; freight, handling or delivery of the motor vehicle to the dealer; commission and other expenses or costs of the dealer. A separately itemized expense mandated by a state law for titling, licensing or registering motor vehicles or for recording a lien on a motor vehicle is not subject to tax.
Amount of Sales Tax
When there is a straight sale, a six percent tax will be collected on the total purchase price. A straight sale is a sale that does not involve a trade-in. When a sale involves a trade-in, sales tax must be collected on the amount of the difference between the retail value of the trade-in, as covered in a mobile home or RV guide, and the sale price of the mobile home or RV purchased. The trade-in motor vehicle can be provided by a third party, not the purchaser. The trade-in does not have to be titled in the name of the purchaser to be used for trade-in credit, as long as the trade-in and the purchase are part of a single transaction.
Discretionary County Surtax
Some counties charge a mobile home owner a local discretionary sales surtax. A discretionary surtax is calculated on an RV or mobile home when the residence address of the purchaser on the certificate of title or registration is located within a discretionary surtax county. The discretionary sales surtax applies to the first $5,000 of the sale price. An RV or mobile home owner can learn more about the discretionary surtax by contacting the Florida Department of Revenue or their local county tax collector’s office.
Paying Tax on Real Property
The owner of a mobile home who permanently affixes their mobile home to real estate that they own must buy a real property (RP) decal. This is a one-time purchase issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). A mobile home owner can buy the decal from their local county tax collector’s office.
The county property appraiser must assess a mobile home with a RP decal. A mobile home with a RP decal is required to be on the real property assessment roll and taxed annually as real property. An owner of a mobile home who does not own the lot or land to which the mobile home is affixed must pay an annual license tax by purchasing a mobile home (MH) decal. The FLHSMV also issues the MH decal, which is available for purchase at a county tax collector’s office. A mobile home that meets the criteria for an MH decal but does not have a current MH decal will be taxed as tangible personal property.
A mobile home without a current RP or MH decal must be assessed by the county property appraiser. The mobile home must be placed on the tangible personal property assessment roll. The county requires the owner to pay property tax on the mobile home every year as tangible personal property. An owner may request a refund of the license tax they paid to the FLHSMV if they provide documentation that they also paid the tangible personal property tax for the same year.
Homestead Tax Exemption
A mobile home owner who permanently affixes their mobile home to land that they own can declare the mobile home as real property. This allows the owner to take advantage of Florida’s homestead exemption. The taxation of the mobile home as real property is not optional; it is required.
Florida law requires a property appraiser to list a mobile home as real property when the same party owns the land and the mobile home, and the mobile home is tied down and connected to utilities. When the property appraiser lists the mobile home as real property, the owner does not have to pay the annual license tax. The owner pays only the real property tax and the $3 fee for the issuance of a RP decal.
Multiple Owners and Sales Tax
When there are multiple owners of a mobile home, and at least one owner also owns the land to which the mobile home is affixed, the property appraiser lists and taxes the mobile home as real property. Multiple owners can individually claim the homestead exemption, but only on their proportionate share of the total value of the mobile home and land. Sales tax applies to the repair of mobile homes classified and taxed as real property. If the owner of a mobile home that does not qualify as real property receives an assessment for tangible personal property tax, they cannot cancel the assessment by paying the previous year’s annual license tax and purchasing the MH decal.
When a mobile home owner bought the MH decal, but did not have it properly affixed on January 1, they can request relief from the tangible personal property tax. They must provide documentation that they bought the MH decal before January 1 of the current tax year. Any transfer of ownership of a mobile home classified as tangible personal property or with a MH decal is subject to sales and use tax.
Repair and Appurtenances
Repairs and improvements to mobile homes that are typed as tangible personal property or with a MH decal are subject to sales tax. They are also subject to applicable discretionary sales surtax on the total charge for the repairs and improvements. The total charge includes materials and labor. Sales tax also applies to appurtenances.
An appurtenance is an item of personal property that is affixed to the land. Appurtenances include carports, sun rooms, utility sheds and other items outside the mobile home. An appurtenance sold by a registered sales tax dealer or any person required to be a registered dealer in conjunction with the mobile home is subject to sales tax and applicable discretionary sales surtax.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.