Motor Vehicle Excise Tax FAQs

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Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

Three Important Reminders:

1) A bill for a vehicle that is no longer owned should not be ignored

2) When a motor vehicle is registered, a motor vehicle excise bill is generated and the owner is responsible for its payment. If the owner moves within Massachusetts or out of state, if he or she sells or trades the motor vehicle, or if it is stolen, s/he needs to make every effort to obtain the bill, to pay it, and then to apply for an abatement if they are eligible. Filing an application down not stay the collection of your excise bill. To avoid interest, charges and collection action, including non-renewal of your registration, you must pay the bill in full within 30 days of its issue date. You will receive a refund if the abatement is granted.

3) To avoid not receiving an excise bill on time, the owner should keep the Registry of Motor Vehicles aware of the current mailing address. There are several on-line transactions which can be performed at the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website.

   

Questions  
What is motor vehicle excise tax? Who qualifies for an abatement on motor vehicle excise tax?
What is the rate? What documents are needed to file for an abatement?
How is the value calculated? How are abatements calculated?
Is the bill prorated? When must I file for an abatement?
I no longer reside in Belmont. Do I still have to pay this bill?

Who qualifies for an exemption on motor vehicle excise tax?

 

What is motor vehicle excise tax?

Under 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.

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What is the rate?

The rate is $25 per one thousand dollars of valuation. This is the standard rate for the entire Commonwealth.

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How is the value calculated?

The excise tax law (M.G.L. c.60A, s.1) establishes its own formula for valuation for state tax purposes whereby only the manufacturer's list price and the age of the motor vehicle are considered. The formula is as follows:

In the first year...........................................90%

In the second year.....................................60%

In the third year.................................. .......40%

In the fourth year........................................25%

In the fifth and succeeding years...............10%

If a new car is purchased a year preceding the model year, for example, a 2012 car is purchased and registered in 2011, the vehicle is valued at 50% for 2011 excise, then 90% for 2012 excise, etc.

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Is the bill prorated?

Excises are prorated on a monthly basis. If a motor vehicle is registered after the beginning of any calendar year, no excise will be imposed for those months, if any, which have fully elapsed before the vehicle is registered. If a vehicle is registered for any part of a month, however, the excise will be due for all of that month. The annual excise due on a car registered after January 1 will be reduced, therefore, by one twelfth of the full year's excise for every month prior to the one in which the vehicle was registered.

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I no longer reside in Belmont. Do I still have to pay this bill?

The owner must pay the motor vehicle excise to the city or town in which he/she resided on January 1st.

If the owner moved to another city or town within Massachusetts prior to January 1st of the taxing year, then the owner needs to supply proof of residency as of January 1st, such as a copy of a utility bill or voter registration. Submit a copy of either document with an abatement application. If the owner’s new address appears on the bill, then the owner needs to supply the date of move with an abatement application.

If the owner of a vehicle moves out of Massachusetts and registers their vehicle in another state and cancels his/her Massachusetts registration, he/she can file an application for an abatement for that portion of the year after the month in which the motor vehicle was registered in the new state. A copy of the out-of-state registration is needed to file for an abatement. The license plate needs to be returned to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, in which case the Mass. RMV will process a Plate Return Receipt to the owner. A copy of the Plate Return Receipt is needed to confirm to the Assessors that, by the generation of the receipt, an excise bill will not be processed for this motor vehicle to this owner with this registration in the following calendar year.

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

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Who qualifies for an abatement on motor vehicle excise tax?

You may qualify for an abatement if your vehicle has been sold, donated, traded, or junked, or if your vehicle has been totaled or stolen.

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

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What documents are needed to file for an abatement?

If the vehicle was sold, donated, traded on junked: submit a bill of sale, donation or traded or junked document, and either a Plate Return Receipt or new registration if plates were transferred with an abatement application.

If vehicle was total loss or stolen: submit an insurance company settlement or plate return receipt or C-19 (affidavit of lost/stolen plate from the Registry of Motor Vehicles) with an abatement application.

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

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How are abatements calculated?

Abatements are prorated by the month. No abatement can reduce a tax to less than $5, and no abatement of less than $5 will be granted.

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When must I file for an abatement?

Under M.G.L. c.60A:2 as amended by Chapter 262, sections 10-11, of the Acts of 2004, abatement applications must be received by the assessors within three years after the excise bill was due, or one year after it was paid, whichever was later.

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

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Who qualifies for an exemption on motor vehicle excise tax?

LIMIT: one vehicle for personal, non-business use (applied to vehicle of choice).
OWNERSHIP: a vehicle owned jointly with his/her spouse or with some other person(s) satisfies the ownership requisite for a full exemption.
LEASED VEHICLES: For each eligible taxpayer, the exemption from the excise for any excise calendar year is limited to one vehicle, owned or leased, for personal, non-business use at a time, i.e., the taxpayer cannot receive an exemption on two vehicles, whether owned or leased, at the same time in the same excise calendar year.

According to M.G.L, Chapter 60A, § 1, the following persons qualify for an exemption on motor vehicle excise tax:

Blind

  1. Suffer a permanent impairment of vision in both eyes.
  2. Submit either a certificate from the Division of the Blind or a physician’s letter.

Handicapped

  1. Suffer a loss or permanent loss of use of both arms or both legs.
  2. Submit a physician’s letter. If the exemption is being sought due to loss of use of both limbs, the letter must state that it is a permanent loss.

Veterans (with no special plate)

  1. Suffer a loss or permanent loss of use of one foot, one hand, one eye, or permanent impairment of vision in at least one eye.
  2. Submit a certificate from the Veteran’s Administration Office.

Veterans with Disabled Veteran Plate

The Medical Advisory Board within the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) has determined that the veteran is permanently disabled and the RMV has issued a disable veteran license plate.

Prisoner of War and Surviving Spouse

  1. Registers a vehicle with a POW license plate.
  2. Surviving spouse may receive the exemption until remarriage.

Non-Domiciliary Military Person (50 U.S.C. App. §571, Federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act)

  1. Military persons assigned to Massachusetts by the Armed Forces who are not Massachusetts domiciliaries.
  2. Submit a letter from either the commanding or personnel officer certifying that s/he is a domiciliary of another state.

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Fillable PDF Form)

Click here to retrieve an Application for Abatement of Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (Online Form)

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