Chapter 60A imposes an excise on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or a trailer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The excise is levied annually in lieu of a tangible personal property tax. Non-registered vehicles, however, remain subject to the taxation as personal property.
The amount of the excise is based on the value of the motor vehicle. That value is based upon the manufacturer’s suggested list price when it was new.
Various percentages of the manufacturer’s list price are applied as follows:
- In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture 50%.
- In the year of manufacture 90% ; in the second year 60%; in the third year 40%; in the fourth year 25%; in the fifth and succeeding years 10%.
Calculating the Excise
Once the value of the vehicle is determined, an excise at the rate of $25.00 per thousand is assessed. The assessors of the municipality in which the vehicle is customarily garaged assess excises annually, on a calendar year basis. The information required to generate these bills (owner, vehicle, registration, and value) is provided by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
If a motor vehicle is registered after January 31, it is taxed for the period extending from the first day of the month in which it is registered to the end of the calendar year. For example, if a vehicle is registered on April 30, it will be taxable as of April 1, for the nine remaining months of the year (April through December) and the excise due, therefore, will be 9/12 of the full excise. In no event shall an excise be assessed for less than $5.00, nor shall an abatement or refund under Section 1 of Chapter 60A reduce an excise to less than $5.00.
Motor Vehicle Excise Exemptions
Motor vehicles owned and registered by the following groups are exempt from the motor vehicle excise.
- The Commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof;
- Charitable corporations or trusts and religious corporations whose personal property is exempt under the provisions of Chapter 59, Section 5, Clauses 3 and 10;
- Lessors engaged in the business of leasing motor vehicles registered in their name and leased for a full calendar year to a charitable organization, other than a degree granting or diploma awarding institution, whose personal property is exempt from taxation under Chapter 59, Section 5, Clause 3;
- Manufacturers of motor vehicles, farmers, or repairmen, who have been issued a special numberplate, so long as the motor vehicle is not operated for the personal use of the owner or his family. This last exemption is granted only upon the filing of an abatement application on Form 126A. The application must contain a sworn statement as to the vehicle’s use.
A single motor vehicle owned and registered for the personal, non-commercial use of the following persons is exempt from the motor vehicle excise:
- World War I, World War II, Korean, or Vietnam veterans who have a service connected disability as certified by the Veteran’s Administration, of permanent loss of use of one or both feet, or one or both hands, or permanent impairment of vision of one or both eyes;
- Persons who have suffered loss or permanent loss of use of both legs or both arms, or, permanent impairment of vision of both eyes;
- Vehicles registered by former prisoners of any war, in which the U.S. has been engaged. Proof must be furnished from the Veterans Administration or it should appear on the veteran’s discharge papers.
Motor Vehicle Excise Abatements
A partial abatement of the excise (and refund for an excise already paid) is appropriate in any of the following circumstances:
- Transfer of a person and his vehicle to another state or country with proof of registration in that state or country and cancellation of a registration in Massachusetts;
- Overvaluation of a motor vehicle;
- Subsequent registration of the same vehicle in the same year by the same person
Notification to the police within 48 hours of discovery of a theft of the vehicle, surrender of the certificate of registration not less than 30 days after the theft, and presentation of a certificate from the Registrar of Motor Vehicles verifying that the car has been stolen and plate return receipt. Instructions for filing an abatement application can be found on the Motor Vehicle Abatement Form.