What is motor vehicle excise tax?
Motor Vehicle Excise Tax is an annual tax for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or trailer. Anyone who registers a vehicle in Massachusetts will receive an excise tax bill from the municipality where the vehicle is garaged. The amount of excise tax due is calculated by multiplying the value of the vehicle by the tax rate ($25.00 per thousand dollars of value). The value of the vehicle is determined by the Registry formula taking the applicable percentage for the year of the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail price (MSRP). The manufacturer’s list price rather than the actual purchase price is used to calculate motor vehicle excise tax.
Applicable Percentage for the Year:
- In the year preceding the year of 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 succeeding years - 10%
When am I eligible for motor vehicle excise abatement?
Please note that an application for abatement does not stay collection of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax. In the event abatement is granted due to sale, trade, theft, loss etc., the amount abated will be refunded to you. No abatement shall be granted for less than $5.00, and no amount shall be refunded below $5.00. The Board of Assessors has authority to abate an excise tax bill only if an application is timely filed. To be timely filed, an application must be received on or before December 31st of the year following the year to which the excise bill relates. Once registered in the year, a bill can be abated only if the vehicle is sold, traded, junked, totaled, or otherwise disposed of and the plates are transferred to another vehicle or canceled. If the vehicle is disposed of and the plates not transferred or cancelled, no abatement can be issued; or if the plates have been canceled or transferred and the original vehicle is not disposed of, no abatement can be issued.
You may be eligible for an excise abatement in any of the situations listed below. Come in to the Assessor's office to complete an abatement application and provide us with all the required documentation. All requested supporting documentation must be supplied for the bill to be abated.
Documentation Needed if Your Vehicle Was:
- Sold or Traded - Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Stolen or Total Loss - Insurance Company Settlement Letter and C-19 form (Affidavit of Lost or Stolen Plate from Registry) or New Registration if plate transferred
- Moved from Town - Proof of Residency prior to Jan 1 of the year of bill: e.g. utility bill, voter registration receipt, lease (moving to another city or town during the calendar year does not entitle you to an abatement). You must notify the registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of your move.
- Moved from Massachusetts - Registration from New State and a Plate Return Receipt
- Junked Vehicle - Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Vehicle Returned to Dealer - Letter from dealer acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Charitable Donation - Letter from Charity acknowledging receipt of vehicle and Plate Return Receipt or New Registration if plate transferred
- Active Duty Non-Resident Military - Legal Residence Form from paymaster's office
When your excise tax abatement is processed you will receive an Abatement Certificate from the Board of Assessors. If a refund is due, a check will follow from the Tax Collector's office.
For questions about vehicle registration information or vehicle valuation, call the Registry of Motor Vehicles Excise Tax Correction Bureau at (617) 351-9380 or go to their website by clicking this link to change your address or get general information.
Motor Vehicle Excise Exemption
Who qualifies for a motor vehicle excise exemption?
A single motor vehicle owned and registered for the personal, non-commercial use of the following persons is exempt from the motor vehicle excise:
- Veterans who have a service connected disability as certified by the Veterans Administration, of permanent loss of use of one or both feet or one or both hands, or permanent impairment of vision of one or both eyes.
- Persons who have suffered permanent loss of use of both legs or both arms, or impairment of vision of both eyes.
Persons must own and register vehicle for their own personal use and must submit either a certificate from the Division of the Blind or a physician's letter. Once any of these exemptions is allowed, no evidence of the facts supporting it is necessary in future years, although an exemption application must be filed annually.
Please note: You must change your address with the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 Days of your move.