Important Excise Tax Information

What is the motor vehicle and trailer excise?

  • An excise is a tax upon an event or privilege. A motor vehicle and trailer excise is in lieu of a tangible personal property tax and is levied for the privilege of registration. M.G.L. Ch. 60A, which is the statutory basis for the excise, uses the motor vehicle itself as a means to measure this privilege. Revenue derived from the excise can be used by cities and towns for any lawful purpose.

What valuation is used for motor vehicle excise bills?

  • The excise is based on the value of the motor vehicle as determined by the Commissioner of Revenue upon certain percentages of the manufacturer's list price in the year of manufacture. The excise valuation is not based on the actual purchase price or "book value" of the vehicle. The percentages set forth in the statutory depreciation schedule that are applied to manufacturer's list price are 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%

What is the rate of excise and where is it assessed?

  • An excise in the amount of $25 per thousand is assessed upon the value of the vehicle as determined in accordance with the depreciation schedule. The excise is levied for a full calendar year and is assessed by the community where the motor vehicle is customarily garaged. M.G.L. Ch. 60A Sec. 1 provides that the owner of any motor vehicle registered for less than a full calendar year will be obligated to pay an excise based on the entire month when the vehicle was registered, as well as the remaining months of the year. For example, a vehicle registered on April 9th will be assessed an excise for the months of April through December.

What is the penalty for Non-Payment of excise?

  • Failure to receive a Notice of Excise Tax does not affect the validity of the excise (MGL Chapter 60A, Section 2). Penalties for Non-Payment include the following:
    • Demand Fee of $5.00
    • Interest Rate of 12%
    • Warrant Fee of $10.00
    • Warrant Notice Fee of $12.00
    • Final Warrant Fee of $17.00
    • Non-Renewal of Registration and Driver’s License Fee $20.00

Where can I find more information regarding excise tax? (with the following links contained)

Important Nonresident Out-of-State Student Information
The motor vehicle laws of Massachusetts require anyone residing in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to register their vehicle in Massachusetts. However, non-resident students (i.e., students who live in another state but are attending school in Massachusetts, commute from another state to attend school, or have a temporary residence in Massachusetts while they attend school here) are exempt from this rule if they complete a non-resident student information form and display a Commonwealth of Massachusetts non-resident decal on their vehicle.

You must complete these forms and obtain a new decal each year. Failure to obtain a decal may result in a $200 fine from the Commonwealth if you fail to comply. Please note that this applies to residential and off-campus students alike. Even students commuting from nearby states must complete these forms.
Decals will not be issued until all forms are submitted. If you are registering a vehicle on campus for less than 30 days (i.e., you obtain a temporary pass) you do not complete this form.

Insurance Coverage
**NOTE: Massachusetts has reciprocal agreements with other states to allow residents of other states to operate in Massachusetts. However, some states do not require insurance for driving within their state. If you live in such as state, you still must have the required level of insurance to operate in Massachusetts.