Motor Vehicle and Trailer Excise

The Excise

Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 60A, an excise shall be assessed on every motor vehicle and trailer registered during the calendar year.

The excise is imposed on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle and is not a property tax.  It therefore applies to anyone who registers a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.

Each vehicle is taxed from the first day of the month in which it is registered for the balance of the year.  The proceeds become a part of the general funds of the municipality and have the effect of reducing the property tax.

The rate of $25.00 per thousand of value, which shall be effective for calendar year 1981 excises and thereafter, is uniform throughout the Commonwealth.  No excise shall be less than $5.00 for 1985 and thereafter.

Non-payment will result in additional charges and may lead to revocation of the vehicle's registration and suspension of the taxpayer's license.  For 1985 and thereafter payment is due in 30 days from date of bill.

The Value

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

In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture50%

In the year of manufacture90%

In the second year60%

In the third year40%

In the fourth year25%

In the fifth and succeeding years10%

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


The assessors of the municipality in which the vehicle is customarily garaged assess an excise on a motor vehicle or trailer.  The excise is based on information furnished on the application for registration.  Any correction of name, model, registration number, make or year of manufacture must be recorded with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.


Abatement is in order of the following cases:

When the motor vehicle is sold and the registration is cancelled or when the vehicle is traded for another vehicle.

When a registrant and motor vehicle are transferred to another state or country with proof of registration in such other state or country and proof of cancellation of registration in Massachusetts.

When a motor vehicle is overvalued.

When there is subsequent registration of the same vehicle in the same year by the same person.

When vehicle is stolen and notification of theft within 48 hours is given to police and certificate of registration surrendered not less than thirty (30) days after the theft and certificate from Registry verifying it.

A proportionate abatement of the excise may be granted if any of the above conditions is met and the application is properly filed.

Must submit proof of what happened to the plates and vehicle for the application of abatement.


The excise is due and payable within 30 days of the date of issue.  If not paid when due, it is subject to penalties of interest, demand charges and fees.

A motor vehicle and trailer excise remaining unpaid after the due date must be reported by the Collector of the municipality to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles for suspension of registration.

Registration can also be suspended for unpaid excises of the previous year.