What is motor vehicle
It is an annual tax for the
privilege of registration. 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. Chapter 60A of Mass. General
laws imposes an excise on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle
or a trailer on the commonwealth of Massachusetts. The excise is
levied annually in lieu of a tangible personal property tax. Non-registered
vehicles, however, remain subject to the taxation as personal property.
The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally
garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.
The Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according
to the information on the motor vehicle registration and sends it
to city or town assessors. Cities and towns then prepare bills based
on excise data sent by the Registry in conformity with Registry
Who must pay?
with Massachusetts' license plates.
What is the rate?
The rate is $25.00 on the thousand. This
is the standard rate for the entire Commonwealth.
How are vehicles valued?
Based on valuation rates set by the state,
vehicles are valued as follows:
How is the tax determined?
Once the value of the vehicle is determined, an excise at the rate
of $25.00 per thousand is assessed. 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. For example, if a vehicle is registered
on April 30, it will be taxable as of April 1, for the nine months
of the year (April through December) and the excise due therefore,
will be 9/12 of the full excise. In no event shall the excise be
assessed for less that $5.00 nor shall an abatement or refund under
Section 1 of Chapter 60A reduce an excise to less that $5.00.
Who qualifies for an abatement?
You may qualify for an abatement when:
- a vehicle is sold, traded, or junked;
- a vehicle is totaled;
- a vehicle is stolen;
- a registrant moves to another city or town within Massachusetts
prior to January 1st of the taxing year;
- a registrant moves out of state, cancels his/her MA
registration, and registers in another state prior to December
Can I get an abatement?
If an owner of a motor vehicle thinks that he/she is entitled to
an adjustment of his/her excise bill, it is strongly recommended
that he/she pay the bill in full and contact the Assessing Department
for an application for abatement. You can print out a Motor Vehicle
Abatement Form from this site. Follow the directions on
the form and send it to the Assessing Department. NOTE: on unpaid
excise tax bills, an owner risks incurring late fees and penalties
if an abatement is not granted. The Assessing Department must receive
applications for abatement by December 31 of the year following
the year of the tax. If the bill is mailed after December 1 of the
year following the tax year, application must be made on or before
the 30th day from the date of issue or the date of mailing, whichever
is later. Abatements can be handled through the mail. However, the
bill should be paid as assessed and a refund will follow if the
abatement is granted.
What information do I need to file
with an abatement application?
You will need the following items:
- Sold, Traded, or Junked: Bill of sale AND either a plate
return receipt or new registration if plates were transferred.
- Stolen, or Total Loss: Insurance Company Settlement
letter and C-19 form (affidavit of Lost/Stolen plate form Registry
of Motor Vehicles).
- Moved to another city or town in MA prior to January
1st of the taxing year: Proof that vehicle was garaged and insured
in another MA city or town, i.e. copy of the Coverage Selections
Page from insurance company.
- Moved to another state or country: Dated copy of original
registration from the new state or country and either a plate
return receipt or a C-19 form from the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
How are abatements
Abatements are pro-rated
monthly. The abatement amount is calculated from the registration
cancellation date to December 31st
of the tax year. For example, if the tax bill was issued
for the whole year and the plate was cancelled in the month of February,
you would be due an abatement for 10 months or 10/12ths of the original
tax. The minimum abatement amount is $5.00.
Who qualifies for
6GA, 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. For ex-prisoners of war and their
unmarried surviving spouses, the law allowing the exemption for
the motor vehicle excise must be accepted by the city or town to
be applicable. Those listed below qualify for an exemption.
- permanent impairment of vision in both eyes
- must own and register for their own personal use
- must submit either a certificate from the Division
of the Blind or a physician's letter
- must suffer either the loss of or the permanent loss
of use of both arms or both legs
- a letter from physician must be submitted
- if exemption is sought due to loss of use of limbs,
the letter must state that it is a permanent loss
- vehicle must be owned and registered by handicapped
Note: A handicapped
person who owns a vehicle jointly, satisfies the ownership requirement
for a full exemption. However,
only one vehicle will be exempted per year.
- must suffer either the loss of or the permanent loss
of use of one foot, one hand, one eye, or permanent impairment
of vision in both eyes
- a certificate from the Veteran's Administration must
- the vehicle must be owned and registered in the name
of the veteran
- Any U.S. Military former Prisoner
of War who registers a vehicle with a P.O.W. license plate
- Non-Domiciliary Servicemen:
- servicemen assigned to Massachusetts by the Armed
- vehicle must be registered in his/her name
- must submit a letter from either a commanding or personnel
officer stating that he/she is a non-domiciliary assigned to
- must be assigned here at the time of registration
When must I file for an abatement/exemption?
You must file by December
31st of the following year. If your tax bill is issued after December
1st of the following year, you have thirty days from the date of
issue of your bill to file an application.
Where must I file for an abatement?
You can file either in person at the
Assessor's Office or through the mail.
When is payment due?
of the motor vehicle excise is due within 30 days from the date
the excise bill is issued. A person who does not receive a bill
is still liable for the excise plus any interest charges accrued.
Therefore, it is important to keep the Registry, the community you
reside in, and the post office informed of a current name and address
so that excise bills can be delivered promptly. All owners of motor
vehicles must pay an excise tax. Therefore, it is the responsibility
of the owner to contact the Treasurer's Office if you have not received
What happens if
my payment is late?
If an excise is not paid
within 30 days from the issue date, the local tax collector sends
a demand. The charge for the demand is $5. Interest accrues on the
overdue bill from the day after the due date until the date of payment
at an annual rate of 12 percent. If the demand is not answered within
14 days, the collector may issue a warrant to the deputy tax collector
or an appointed agent. The warrant notice sent by the deputy collector
(or the appointed agent) to the taxpayer costs $14. If this notice
is not answered than a final warrant, a service warrant, will be
delivered or exhibited to the taxpayer at his/her residence or place
of business at a fee of $14. All bills should clearly state the
interest and penalty charges.
How does non-payment
of motor vehicle excise affect license and registration?
If the service warrant demanding
final payment is ignored, the collector may then notify the Registry
of Motor Vehicles of such non-payment, including all accrued interest
and penalty fees. The Registry may then mark the individual's registration
preventing the renewal of the motor vehicle registration and the
owner's driver's license until such time as the Registry is notified
that full and final payment has been made to the city or town. This
payment shall include a $20 release fee as final settlement of the
delinquent excise. Once the bill had been paid, the municipality
will give the motorist a receipt so he or she can return to the
Registry to re-register his/her vehicle. Although the local tax
collectors do notify the Registry that the matter is resolved, it
is strongly advised to retain the certified receipt of payment for
presentation to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Cities and towns
relay computerized notification that excise bills have been paid
only periodically to the Registry. Local tax collectors, in effect,
have up to six years to notify the Registry of non-payment. Under
the excise tax law, tax collectors have six years from the issue
date of a bill to notify the Registry of non-payment by a driver
(M.G.L. c.60A, s2A), unless the tax record shows a history of non-payment.
However, under the Registry's own policy, this notification time
has been reduced to just two years. If the record does show a history
of delinquency, the tax collectors can electronically mark the driver's
record and institute proceedings to collect for as many years back
(beyond six years, in other words) as necessary and notify the Registry.
The Registry, in turn, reviews each notification beyond two years
individually. If a taxpayer has had a good history of payment and
suddenly receives a bill dating back more than six years, the assessors
will assign a tax collector to collect the bill; the tax collector,
in turn, will attempt to collect and assess late fees and penalties,
as is required by law, if applicable. However, the collector can
no longer mark the driver's record for non-payment since the Registry
only allows two years for notification from the issue date of the
bill. Thus, the taxpayer's ability to renew the license, in this
instance, is not hampered; but the bill must still be resolved with
the local tax collector.
What if I've moved
out of Massachusetts?
If the owner of a vehicle
moves out of Massachusetts and registers his/her vehicle in another
Notify the Assessing Department,
provide them with a copy of the following documentation: as of January
1 of the tax year the Registration Form for the New State or County
or Plate Return Receipt. Please note: that the Registry strongly
encourages a person who has moved to another state to cancel the
registration in Massachusetts in order to avoid problems with an
excise tax abatement application or future registration in the new
What if I sold my
If an excise bill is received
for a vehicle or trailer which has been sold, the seller must return
the plate(s) to the Registry of Motor Vehicles,
get a return plate receipt,
and file an application for abatement together with the return plate
receipt or new registration form and the bill of sale with the Assessing
Department. You can print out a Motor Vehicle Abatement application
from this site. The bill will be adjusted to reflect the portion
of the year when the vehicle was owned by the recipient of the bill.
NOTE: It is important to remember that the bill for a vehicle you
no longer own should not be ignored.
What if I traded
If an excise bill is received
for a vehicle, which was traded, and which was not owned in the
calendar year stated on the bill, it is recommended to pay the bill,
and file an application for abatement with the Assessing Department.
The application must accompany a copy of the New Registration Form
for the new vehicle that indicates the date of transfer. You can
print out a Motor Vehicle Abatement application from this site.
If an excise bill is received for a vehicle which was traded but
which was owned for a portion of the calendar year stated on the
bill, it is necessary to: pay the bill, and provide a copy of the
registration for the new vehicle which indicates the date of transfer
together with an application for abatement to the Assessing Department.
The Assessor can then adjust the bill to reflect the ownership for
only part of the year, and grant the proper abatement. The bill
is prorated back to the last day of the month in which the vehicle
was owned and the excise bill on the new vehicle will be prorated
as of the date the new vehicle was registered.
What if my car is
If the vehicle is stolen
and not recovered within 30 days, the owner will be entitled to
an abatement if he/she reports the theft of the vehicle to the local
police within 48 hours of discovery of the theft. After 30 days,
the owner must surrenders the certificate of registration and obtain
a certificate from the Registry of Motor Vehicles indicating that
he/she has done so, notify the Assessing Department provide them
with a copy of the following documentation: Police Report and C-19
form (Affidavit of Lost or Stolen plate) - this certificate and
the local police report of the theft should be presented to the
Assessing Department with an application for abatement. You
can print out a Motor Vehicle Abatement application from this site.
The assessor will adjust the bill and grant an abatement for the
remaining portion of the year. If the motor vehicle or trailer is
subsequently recovered and reregistered, another excise bill will
be issued for the remainder of the year. Falsely reporting the theft
of a motor vehicle or trailer will result in severe penalties and
a person may be charged up to three times the excise due on the
vehicle for an entire year.