Motor Vehicle Excise Tax FAQs

To retrieve an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax, click here.


The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website address is: www.massdot.state.ma.us/rmv

Q: What is motor vehicle excise tax?

A: 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.

Q: What is the rate?

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

Q: How is the value calculated?

A: 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.

Q: Is the bill prorated?

A: 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.

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

A: 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 for an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax.

Q: Who qualifies for an abatement on motor vehicle excise tax?

A: 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 for an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax.

Q: What documents are needed to file for an abatement?

A: 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 for an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax.

Q: How are abatements calculated?

A: 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.

Q: When must I file for an abatement?

A: 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 for an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax.

Q: Who qualifies for an exemption on motor vehicle excise tax?

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

Note: For any of the below exemptions, leased vehicles are not exempt from taxation.

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.
3. Own and at least co-register the vehicle for his/her own personal, non-business use (limited to 1 vehicle).

Handicapped
1. Suffer a loss or permanent loss of use of both arms or both legs.
2. Submit a physician’s letter.
3. If the exemption is being sought due to loss of use of both limbs, the letter must state that it is a permanent loss.
4. Own and at least co-register the vehicle for his/her own personal, non-business use (limited to 1 vehicle).

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.
3. Own and at least co-register the vehicle for his/her own personal, non-business use (limited to 1 vehicle).

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. Own and at least co-register the vehicle for his/her own personal, non-business use (limited to 1 vehicle).
3. 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.
3. Own and at least co-register the vehicle for his/her own personal, non-business use (limited to 1 vehicle).

Click here for an application for abatement of motor vehicle tax.