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Under Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) Chapter 60A, all Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise. Also, under MGL Chapter 59, Section 2, it is important to note that every motor vehicle, whether registered or not, is subject to taxation, either as excise or personal property, for the privilege of road use, whether actual or future. 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.
All of the information on excise tax bills is supplied to the town via a tape from the Registry of Motor Vehicles according to the motor vehicle registration information your insurance company or agent supplies to the Registry. The town assessors commit the taxes to the tax collector for distribution and collection of payment.
An excise at the rate of $25 per one thousand dollars of valuation (effective January 1, 1981) is levied on each motor vehicle. Valuation figures are the manufacturers' list prices for vehicles in their year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid, or condition are not considered for excise tax purposes. Taxable value is adjusted annually based on the following formula:
Motor Vehicle Excise Tax bills are issued on a calendar-year basis. Owners of vehicles registered as of January 1 can expect to receive a bill by mid-February. The bill is owed to the town where the vehicle is garaged as of January 1. The mailing address is provided by the owner to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Excises are prorated on a monthly basis. For a new registration after January 1, owners can expect bills 2 to 3 months afterwards. If a vehicle is registered for a part of a month, the excise will be due for the whole month.
When a vehicle is registered late in the calendar year, the bill is generated early in the new calendar year. Taxpayer confusion arises when this bill is soon followed by a tax bill for the new calendar year. The tax year of the bill appears prominently on the tax bill. Taxpayers should make note of the year of the bill when paying an excise tax.
Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued. According to Chapter 60A, Section 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws, "Failure to receive notice shall not affect the validity of the excise". 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, local assessors, 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 Tax Collector if he/she has not received a bill.
Do not ignore your excise bill! Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued. Demand bills, which include a $5 fee and interest at a per diem rate of 12% from the day after the due date, are issued if an excise is not paid within 30 days from the issue date. If the demand is not answered within 14 days, the Tax Collector issues a warrant to the Deputy Tax Collector, which carries a $10 fee. The Deputy Tax Collector issues a warrant notice at a cost of $12. If there is still no response, a final warrant, a service warrant, will be delivered or exhibited to the taxpayer at their residence or workplace, at a fee of $22.
Finally, Massachusetts state law authorizes the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to suspend or revoke the license or registration of an owner of a motor vehicle for failure to pay an excise tax bill.
For payment questions, contact the Collector at 508-669-5411.
For questions concerning tax errors, valuations, over-valuations or exemptions, contact the Assessor at 508-669-5043.
For more information contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles Customer Service Department at 800-858-3926.