Motor Vehicle FAQs

What is motor vehicle excise tax?

The excise is imposed on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle. You are billed based on the information provided to the Registry of Motor Vehicles on the registrant’s application.

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Who must pay?

It applies to anyone who registers a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.

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What is the rate?

The rate is $25.00 per thousand in value. This is the standard rate for the entire state.

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What is the minimum tax?

The minimum amount of a bill is $5.00. This does not mean that every excise minimum is $5.00. The law states that no bill shall be less than $5.00.

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How are vehicles valued?

The value of a motor vehicle for excise purposes is determined by the Commissioner of Revenue at varying percentages of the manufacturer's list price in the year of manufacture as follows:

  • In the year preceding the designated 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%

Condition and market value are not considerations in determining the value, nor is age after the fifth year.

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Who qualifies for an abatement?

You may qualify for an abatement (or refund if the excise is paid) when:

  • Your vehicle is valued for more than percentage of manufacturer's list price in the schedule established by G.L. Ch. 60A §1.
  • Your vehicle is exempt from the excise under G.L. Ch. 60A §1.
  • You sell, trade or otherwise transfer ownership of the vehicle, and transfer or cancel your registration, during the same calendar year.
  • You move to another state, register the vehicle there, and cancel or do not renew your Massachusetts registration during the same calendar year.
  • Your vehicle is stolen, you report the theft to the police within 48 hours, and you cancel your registration and obtain a certificate from Registrar at least 30 days after theft.
  • You register the same vehicle again later in the same calendar year.

You are not entitled to an abatement if you (1) cancel your registration and retain ownership of the vehicle, or (2) move to another Massachusetts city or town, during the same calendar year.

No excise may be reduced to less than $5.00. No abatement of less than $5.00 will be made. Therefore, if your bill is less than $10.00, no abatement can be issued for the above.

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What information do I need to file with an abatement application?

Provide the information described below that is pertinent to your abatement application:

  • Vehicle Sold or Traded: Bill of sale (or name and address of purchaser) and proof of cancellation (plate return receipt or lost plate affidavit (form C-19) from the Registry of Motor Vehicles) or new registration if plates transferred to another vehicle.
  • Moved from Massachusetts: Copy of MA plate return receipt and a copy of the new state registration.
  • Vehicle Stolen or Totaled: Police report or insurance company settlement letter (not the incident date) and proof of cancellation or transfer of registration.
  • Moved to Another City/Town: Copy of insurance coverage selections page showing the place of garaging as of January 1st of the taxing year or as of the date of registration of the vehicle.

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Who qualifies for an exemption?

Those listed below may be eligible for an exemption:

  • Blind
  • Handicapped
  • Veteran’s (POW’s/Non-domiciliary Servicemen)

Please contact our office for the specifics for these exemptions, as each person’s case is different.

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When must I file for an abatement or exemption on excise?

Applications for abatement must be received by the Board of Assessors within three years after the excise was due, or one year after the excise was paid, whichever is later. To preserve your right to an abatement and to appeal, you must file on time.

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Where must I file for an abatement?

You must file the application in the Assessors' Office.

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Where do I get an application for abatement?

You can pick one up at the Assessors' Office or you can click here.

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How long does it take to receive an abatement once it is filed?

Normally you will receive notification within a matter of days following the next scheduled Assessor's meeting. By law, the Assessors have three months from the application filing date to act unless you agree in writing to their request to extend the action period for a specific time.

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