Here’s the deal. When people live and travel full time in RV’s, they get to choose the state where they claim residency. Texas, South Dakota, and Florida are the three most popular, and we chose South Dakota. Florida was too far, Texas was, well, Texas, and that left South Dakota. Was it worth it?
Judge Learned Hand once famously said, “. . . nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands.” Alright then! South Dakota charges NO state income tax. None. Nada. Put a big check in the Plus column.
And sales tax on vehicles is 3%. Our fifth wheel was a major investment, and I felt a lot better writing a sales tax check for 3% rather than the 8.25% I would have paid in California.
Easy and cheap. Karen and I sat down with a lady from our mail forwarding service and she did all the paperwork in no time at all. Here are the cool things about South Dakota vehicle registration:
– Did I say cheap? In California, my Freightliner would have cost about $1,800 per year to register (that’s not a typo). In South Dakota, it cost $164. Wait a minute . . . let me do the math . . . OK, I’m smiling. My Toyota Tacoma, fifth wheel, and cargo trailer were similarly inexpensive.
– No vehicle emission tests.
– Online renewal. Since there are no vehicle emission tests required, I never have to return to South Dakota to have my vehicles tested. That means I can renew online from anywhere, any time. Nice.
We walked into the license office and about 20 minutes later we walked out with our licenses. And the South Dakota license allows me to drive my monster truck and gargantuan trailer. I’m not sure that’s such a good idea for the other guy, but I’m VERY grateful I don’t have to go to truck driving school to qualify for a commercial driver’s license. Some states require a commercial license to drive the truck and trailer I own.
Some people have asked about our mail. That solution turned out to be easy. We hired a mail forwarding service in Sioux Falls that also serves as our permanent address. Whenever mail comes in, they send it to us, scan it and send it as an attachment, or shred it. Easy.
It’s pretty cool when we’re hanging out at the RV park, chatting up some new acquaintance, and he or she asks, “So, where ya’ll from?” Not many people can stand up a little taller, puff out their chest a little wider, smile a little more smugly, and say, “Well, I’m from South Dakota!“