Motor Vehicle Excise
All Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise. 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.
If You’ve Moved
If a motor vehicle owner moves within Massachusetts and has not paid an excise tax for the current year, he / she should immediately notify the local assessor of his/her new address. The owner must pay the motor vehicle excise to the city or town in which he / she resided on January 1. If the owner moved before the first of the year, he / she must pay the tax to the new community to which the owner moved. If the owner did not notify the Registry, the local assessor, and the post office that he / she moved before the first of the year, it may be necessary to file for an abatement with the former city or town which had sent the excise bill. Most cities and towns will dismiss the bill and reroute it to the new community once the owner furnishes proof that he / she had moved before the first of the year.
If You've Moved out of State
If the owner of a vehicle moves out of Massachusetts and registers his / her vehicle in another state and cancels his/her Massachusetts registration or does not renew the Massachusetts registration, he / she can file an application for abatement for that portion of the year after the month in which the motor vehicle was registered in the new state or in which the Massachusetts registration was cancelled, whichever is the later. Please note that it is necessary for a person who has moved out of state to cancel the registration in Massachusetts and obtain a return plate receipt in order to avoid problems with an excise tax abatement application or future registration in the new state unless the new state as a general policy confiscates the plates from the old state (Massachusetts, i.e.,). In such a case, the owner is still required to cancel the registration from Massachusetts but no plate return receipt is required if proof of registration in the new state is presented.
If Your Motor Vehicle Is Sold
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 and the bill of sale with the Board of Assessors. The bill will be adjusted to reflect the portion of the year when the vehicle was owned by the recipient of the bill. It is important to remember that the bill for a vehicle you no longer own should not be ignored.
If Your Motor Vehicle Is 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 then file an application for abatement with the Board of Assessors. The application must accompany a copy of the registration for the new vehicle, which indicates the date of transfer.
Excise Bill for a Vehicle
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 then provide a copy of the registration for the new vehicle which indicates the date of transfer together with an application for abatement to the Board of Assessors. The board can then adjust the bill to reflect the ownership for only part of the year, and grant the proper abatement. The bill on the trade-in vehicle is prorated back to the last day of the month prior to the one in which the vehicle’s registration was cancelled and the excise bill on the new vehicle will be prorated as of the beginning of the month in which the vehicle was registered.
If Your Motor Vehicle Is Stolen
If the vehicle is stolen and not recovered within 30 days, the owner will be entitled to an abatement if the theft of the vehicle was reported to the local police within 48 hours of discovery of the theft. After 30 days, the owner must surrender the certificate of registration and obtain a certificate from the Registry of Motor Vehicles indicating that he/she has done so. This certificate and the local police report of the theft should be presented to the Board of Assessors with an application for abatement. The board 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 re registered, 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.
If you receive a Motor Vehicle Excise Bill and you have questions, please view our Motor Vehicle Excise Booklet (PDF) and read about motor vehicle excise, how it is calculated, abated and more. If you have sold or traded your vehicle, we may be able to abate all or a portion of your excise bill before you pay it! Please call 508-946-2410 for details.