What’s The Best State For Fulltime RVers When It Comes To Taxes?

Full time RVers have many advantages over the house-bound population.  Not only do they get to travel and enjoy new vistas, meet interesting people, and relish new experiences, they can also choose exactly where they want to declare home!

However, our country’s legal system was established around the premise that people are stationary in their places of residence.

Next to your social security number and drivers license, the most required piece of information that all levels of authority and government officials want is your physical address.

rv-homebase

Enter the full time RVer.

All you want is the freedom to go your own way, as financially prudent as possible. Of course, stretching your income is also important.  With today’s hard economic times, getting the biggest bang for your buck is mandatory.

To that end, it’s only common sense that you would try to find a state that has its taxation system set up to your advantage.

Must read: Tax Deductions For RV Owners

 

How RVers Select A Homebase

Since it’s required that you declare a state as your primary residence, the first consideration should be whether or not they have an income tax.

Right off the bat, you’ve eliminated all but 9 states:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

However… while Tennessee and New Hampshire don’t have state income tax, they do tax interest income and dividends, so we’ll leave them off our RV-friendly list.

And since you’ll have to at least pass through the state occasionally to renew your vehicle registration, drivers license, etc, we’ll take Alaska off the list, too.  As tax-friendly as they are, making an annual pilgrimage that far north is a bit extreme.

Now we’re down to 6 RV-friendly possibilities.  Let’s look at sales tax.

There’s not much difference between the 6 remaining states:

  • Florida  (over 6%)
  • Nevada (6.5% to 8.75%)
  • South Dakota (over 4%)
  • Texas (6.25% to 8.25%)
  • Washington (6.5%)
  • Wyoming (4% to 8%)

Property tax on houses and land is of no concern, but personal property tax will affect your RV, car, and even furniture & household possessions:

  • Florida – Yes
  • Nevada – No
  • South Dakota – No
  • Texas – No
  • Washington – Yes
  • Wyoming – No

Drop 2 more (Florida and Washington) out of our list of full time RVer-friendly states.

So, the final 4 possibilities are:

  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Wyoming


Where Do Most Fulltime RVers Live?

choosing-your-rv-home-baseAfter doing some serious searching on the Internet, the best information I could find leads me to believe that the 2 top-ranking states, as far as the general population of full time RVers go, are:

#1  Texas

#2  South Dakota

Florida was also mentioned, though I didn’t find anything about Wyoming or Nevada.

Texas came out on top mostly due to the Escapees RV Club which is headquartered in Livingston, TX.  They have better then 15,000 members who declare Texas as home, yet many spend little or no time in the state.  The Escapees even go so far as to have a Become a Texan Manual (.pdf) on the Internet that gives you all the information you need to establish your domicile in Texas. They can even do your mail forwarding for you.


It’s The Little Things…

Taxes are the obvious issues when you choose a particular state as your primary residence.  But don’t forget such things as vehicle registration and drivers licenses.

texas-flag-state.PNGTexas provides for renewal of both by mail.  Texas does require you to have your vehicles inspected annually, though they allow you to get them inspected whenever you return to the state — assuming that you actually do return at some point.

Another issue is voting, Texas has the most liberal absentee voting I’ve seen.  You can mail in your vote a month in advance of the election.

My wife and I full-timed in Texas for 2 years, and we were house-bound there for another 6 years.  It’s a state with a lot to see and do, and lots of real friendly folks.  Overall Texas is a darn good place to call home.

Here are some more tips for choosing a homebase when you’re RVing full time, plus a few additional things you’ll want to consider.

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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Fun From Around the Web

  • timothy aka the cast aways

    My wife and I are ready to hit the road and be full time in the rv world. I am 100% military disabled and she is on s.s. disability. we are tax exempt and other then our car and rv we own nothing. We currently live in Alabama, we are wondering what is the best state for us to get a license, register and insurance on our vehicle and home.
    also what is the best system for internet and phone service,

    • Huckstead1969

      How does that work with your wife getting her disability? Does she recieve it from Alabama? Since you actually don’t reside there? We are getting ready to rv full time as well and have been searching this question with disability and how that would work. Thankyou in advance for helping us in this matter.

  • Curtis

    Timothy, Being in Alabama, Texas is close and very RV friendly when it comes to taxes etc. For internet, if your on the road, finding workable hot spots is as easy as the nearest McDonalds. If you need more reliable service check out a plug in card that goes in a USB port from any of many services out there.

  • Cherylbnj

    I’m planning to go full time within the year. I actually did all this research before I found your site (oh well, sigh). I must respectfully disagree with you regarding property tax in Florida, unless I am reading it wrong. Here is the links to the info: http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/taxpayers/exemptions.html#12 (“Some items of personal property are not taxable, for example, licensed motor vehicles, boats, airplanes, trailers, trailer coaches, and certain mobile homes as defined by law.”)

    • Jonathan Miller

      I lived in Florida for 7 years and never heard of personal property tax. I have no idea what the article is referring to.

  • Guest

    This year Texas is working to pass new laws on voting.  I do not know how it will affect absentee voting, but there is a possibility it will make it more difficult.

  • DPlaisance

    Most places ask for your address to be listed.  What do you do in a case where you have no physical address?  Even setting up a post office box requires a residence address.

  • Curtis

    Dplaisance, Using a mail forwarding service will give you a physical address that will meet most requirements.

  • Jane

    I am just now becoming a full-time RV’er – my residence will be Madison, South Dakota – do I need to buy a dog license?

    • Curtis

      Jane, Your call, I’ve had dogs all my life and traveled most of the country.  I’ve yet to buy a dog license.  Their main purpose, beyond collecting money for the city, is to provide the ability for your dog to be returned to you if it is picked up.  Pretty worthless if your traveling.

  • Pattifab

    We chose South Dakota instead of Texas. Correction for this post…South Dakota sales tax is 3%, not over 4%, as stated. Car tags are extremely low, and we found that it’s easier to get and keep your tags in S. Dakota than Texas. South Dakota also has lots of mail forwarding services. Ours is in Box Elder, a suburb of Rapid City, called Americas Mailbox.com. Check them out, they’re great. They even got our original RV and vehicle tags for us. S. Dakota is extremely RV friendly.
    P

  • david

    Wise County doubled the registration fee for our motor home when I registered it last year. The lady who sold me the plates said “We’re getting these things off the road.”

  • Les L Howard Jr

    Thank you for great Info on Fultime Rving

  • Barbara

    South Dakota wins over Texas every time, because of jury duty. Whenever any one I know has been called, they are always immediately excused. In Texas they will issue a bench warrant for you if you don’t show up!

    Sales tax on vehicles in South Dakota is half what it is in Texas (and only if you haven’t already paid tax somewhere else).

    Insurance is a LOT less than Texas.

    Registrations are cheaper too.

    There are NEVER any inspections, and you NEVER need to bring your vehicle to South Dakota.

    Absentee voting is very simple to do if you are a member of Americas Mailbox, as I am. They are the largest mail forwarding company in South Dakota, and second largest in the country (yes, Escapees is still a bit bigger). Their members have their own voting district and it can all be done through the mail.

    You only need to go there once every FIVE years to renew your driver’s license, and I easily got an extension one year since we weren’t planning on being there when I needed to renew.

    Check them out!

    • nolan

      so if I wanted to have SOUTH DAKOTA as my residence state, how would I do it without actually going there?

    • Jonathan Miller

      The new Texas vehicle inspection law is going to make Texas even less attractive. Starting in 2015 they will not renew your vehicle registration until you show proof of vehicle inspection within the last 90 days. This is going to force people to come back to Texas at some arbitrary time to get their vehicles inspected… I’ve lived in Texas for 20 years, never been to South Dakota, but it’s looking better all the time.

  • Jeffrey Weitzel

    looking at becoming a full time rver how does your banking and direct deposit work is that the same as you set up the mail forwarding i know the bank also requires an address ?????? thanks

    • Curtis

      Jeffrey, With direct deposit I can do all my banking on line. I can transfer money as needed and if you establish an address with a mail service it should be sufficient for the bank too.

  • nclui01

    Hi,
    Me & my Mom (I’m an adult, btw), are getting ready to become new to the RV lifestyle…we’re leaving our home behind and becoming full-timer’s! I’m super excited, but am getting VERY overwhelmed with all the details of completely changing our lifestyle! Anyhow, so I’ve researched all about which states are best to become resident’s of, and I was leaning towards South Dakota because almost everyone raves about it. BUT…because of the gosh-darn “Obamacare” (UGH!!!), and because of my non-existent income right now, I don’t qualify for a subsidy, and it would cost me almost $330.00/mo. to get coverage!!! SO…I needed to find a state where I would qualify for Medicaid (I live in NC, and am NOT covered by Medicaid anymore here). The only state that I found and liked, was NEVADA. Any opinion, concerns or things I should know before choosing this state? ANY info. would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

    • Curtis

      ncluo01, Oh, good question! Sadly I haven’t a clue because each state determines on their own who and what they will allow in the way of Medicaid. . Here is one thought thought though, Medicaid is only good within the borders of any given state. Go outside that area and you have to deal with the system for which ever state you’re in. Not very appealing for travelers. As too Obama Care, it’s my understanding if you are under a specific income level it’s basically free. I’d look further into Obama Care.

  • gscott

    Interesting. However;

    I believe immediately eliminating all the states that have an income tax is a mistake. Many states exempt retirement pensions, railroad pensions, and Social Security Income from income taxation. Depending on one’s situation this is essentially the same as an income tax free state.

    Washington State has no income tax, but they are heavy in other taxation areas including sales, real estate tax and gasoline tax. And also “user fees” have gone up drastically in the anti tax mood here.

    The State sales tax rate is indeed only 6.5%, but local jurisdictions add to that and approximates 9% in most locations. Lowest combined sales tax rate in the State 7.9% I believe. This amount is due on all purchases including vehicles except not on groceries.

    There are now fees on State Parks, tolls on roads, increased driver’s license fees, increased motor vehicle license fees (still relatively low however), high gas tax, and high tourism taxes on lodging and restaurants.

    It’s very complicated, isn’t is? Thanks for your help.