Why Do So Many Supercars Have Montana License Plates?

2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Even though it may not seem like the prime location for owning a supercar, the state of Montana happens to be a popular state to register them.

Paul Zuckerman, an attorney and car collector based in Los Angeles, says the reason why so many supercar owners have their vehicles registered in Montana, regardless if they are physically in the state or not, is to avoid paying taxes and meeting emissions standards. “The people who have Montana license plates are like the people who put the fake handicap badges in their car,” says Zuckerman.

Alex Ross, owner of the high-performance garage Sharkwerks in Fremont, CA, says that spotting a sports car with Montana plates is becoming so frequent that it has become a running joke. “No matter where in California, at every cars and coffee [gathering], look for the Montana plates. It’s comical.”

In 2021, it was reported by the Montana DMV that 10% of McLaren P1s ever made (which are valued at $1 million each) were registered in the state. It was also reported that four of the 100 Pagani Huayras (each valued at $2.5 million) were also registered in Montana.

So what is it about Montana that makes it a hot spot for supercar owners? Taxes.

Montana does not charge sales tax on personal property. Alaska, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Oregon also don’t require sales tax. Meaning that anyone who pays $500,000 on a Lamborghini will not have to pay $36k in state taxes in order to own it. Meanwhile, the California state tax is 7.25%.

The other reason is that Montana does not have any mandatory vehicle emissions tests. Considering that the state’s population is not dense enough like many other major metropolitan states like New York, none of its populated areas warrant the need for a test. Meanwhile, in California, a vehicle must meet the Clean Air Act’s regulations by passing its emissions standards, especially if it is made after 1975.

Some see it as a legal loophole. Others see it as tax evasion. Unless authorities decide to outlaw registering out-of-state cars in Montana, don’t be surprised to see a Corvette with a “Treasure State” license plate.

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