Vehicle Excise Tax

What is Auto Excise Tax?

Excise is an annual tax for the registration of a motor vehicle or trailer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts per M.G.L. Chapter 60A. Anyone who registers a vehicle with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will be billed based on the information supplied to the Registry of Motor Vehicles on the registrant's application.

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How is auto excise calculated?

Excise taxes are assessed annually on a calendar year basis by the assessors of the city or town in which the vehicle is garaged as of January 1st. If the motor vehicle is registered after January 31, it is taxed for the period extending from the first day of the month in which it is registered to the end of the calendar year.  

An excise at the rate of $25 per one thousand dollars of valuation is levied on each motor vehicle. Figures are the manufacturers’ list prices for vehicles in their year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid, or condition are not considered for excise tax purposes. The excise tax law (M.G.L. c.60A, s.1) establishes its own formula for valuation for state tax purposes whereby only the manufacturer’s list price and the age of the motor vehicle are considered. The formula is as follows:

In the year prior to manufacture.....................................50%

In the year of manufacture.............................................90%

In the second year..........................................................60%

In the third year...............................................................40%

In the fourth year.............................................................25%

In the fifth and all succeeding years................................10%

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What if I get a bill for a car I no longer own?

It is important that the bill for a vehicle you no longer own not be ignored. Non-payment of excise more than thirty (30) days after its issue date, will continue to accrue interest and other charges and fees for which you will be responsible. Your driver's license and/or vehicle registration will also be submitted to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for non-renewal action. If you are liable for any portion of the bill, you will also have to pay any fees and interest due. You can contact the Assessor’s Office for an abatement on any portion of the original bill that you may be due.

If payment in full is made, any abated amounts will be refunded. To avoid late fees and interest, it is recommended to make payment and then address any abatement that may be due.

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Am I eligible for an auto excise abatement?

The Assessor’s office must receive abatement applications within 3 years after the excise is due OR within one year after the excise is paid. Abatement applications can be filed if:

The owner believes the assessment is incorrect, or

If the vehicle was traded, or

If the vehicle was stolen, or

If the vehicle was sold during the year in which it is being taxed and the registration was properly cancelled, or

If the owner moved from the to another community, prior to January 1st

If the owner moved to another state and registered the vehicle and cancelled the registration in Massachusetts, or

If the registration is cancelled, it is most important to obtain a return plate receipt.

Plates can be cancelled on the RMV website.

The plates must be canceled in order to receive an abatement.  If a registration is expired or revoked, an abatement cannot be granted.

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How is an auto excise abatement calculated?

When an abatement is granted, excise bills are prorated by the month. The owner is responsible for the excise accrued through the month end of the month in which the car was last registered to him/her for any period. No abatement can reduce a tax to less than $5, and no abatement of less than $5 will be granted.

 

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Do I qualify for an auto excise exemption?

Chapter 60A, Section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides excise tax exemptions for vehicles owned by certain disabled individuals and veterans, ex-prisoners of war and their surviving spouses and certain charitable organizations. Please contact the Assessor’s Office at (508) 366-3010 for further details on eligibility.

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