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Motor Vehicle Excise

M.G.L. 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 taxation as personal property.


A vehicle's excise valuation is based on the manufacturer's list price (M.S.R.P.) in the vehicle's year of manufacture. 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. Excises are assessed annually, on a calendar year basis, by the Assessor of the municipality in which the vehicle is primarily garaged.

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.


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;
  • Sale of a vehicle with proof of cancellation of registration; or, if existing plates are transferred to a new vehicle registration (subsequent registration of a new vehicle in the same year by the same person); or
  • 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 evidenced by such plate return receipt.

In the case of a stolen vehicle subsequently recovered and registered in the same calendar year by the same owner, a proportionate part of the excise is paid for those months of the year remaining. Anyone making a false report of theft is subject to a penalty of no more than three times the excise due on the vehicle for the entire year, recoverable in a civil action brought by the city or town which the excise was payable.

To file for an abatement, please submit a Motor Vehicle Excise Abatement Application (133KB).


Motor vehicles owned and registered by the following individuals or organizations are exempt from 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 M.G.L. Chapter 59, Section 5, Clauses 3 and 10 and possessing a tax exempt identification number;
  • Charitable organizations or non-degree granting institutions who lease motor vehicles for a full calendar year;
  • 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;
  • A single motor vehicle owned and registered for the personal, non-commercial use of the following persons is exempt from motor vehicle excise (after providing the Assessor with the exemption application completed by a physician):
    1. World War I, World War ll, 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;
    2. Non-veterans 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;
  • Full-time military personnel stationed in Massachusetts, but who have a permanent residency in another state (a letter from the Commanding Officer stating legal place of domicile is required).

Once any of these exemptions is allowed, required documentation must be updated every five(5) years and a motor vehicle excise exemption application must be filed annually.

To file for an exemption, please submit a Motor Vehicle Excise Exemption Application (66KB).

For Further Assistance

If you need additional assistance or have questions about the valuation or excise of motor vehicles, please call (508) 799-1099 and read through our Frequently Asked Questions.

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