Motor Vehicle Excise Tax
- What is motor vehicle excise?
Chapter 60A of Massachusetts General Law 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. The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.
- Where does the billing information come from?
The Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according to the information on the motor vehicle registration and sends it to the Dennis assessors, who then prepare bills based on excise data sent by the Registry in conformity with Department of Revenue requirements. If you need to change your information, please contact the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
- How is the excise determined?
Valuation figures are the manufacturers' list price for vehicles in their year of manufacture (MSRP). Present market value, price paid, and/or condition are not considered for excise tax purposes. The excise tax law (MGL C60A, §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. Various percentages of the manufacturer's list price are applied.
The percentages are as follows:
- In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture (brand new car released before model year) - 50%
- In the designated 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%
- How is the excise tax calculated?
Once the value of the vehicle is determined, an excise at the rate of $25 per thousand is assessed. Excise tax is assessed annually, on a calendar year basis, by the assessors of the city or town in which the vehicle is garaged. If the 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 months of the year (April through December) and the excise due, therefore, will be 9/12 of the full excise. In no event shall the excise be assessed for less than $5, nor shall an abatement or refund under Section 1 of Chapter 60A reduce an excise to less than $5.
Chapter 60A of Massachusetts General Laws 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. The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.
- Who collects the motor vehicle excise?
Local tax collectors are responsible for collecting the motor vehicle and trailer excise. Generally, tax collectors and deputy tax collectors do not accept partial payment of an Excise bill. Taxpayers should be prepared to pay the full amount due. There are no special considerations for financial hardship.
- When is payment due?
Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due within 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued (not mailed).
Note: A person who does not receive an excise tax bill is still liable for the excise plus any interest charges accrued. Therefore, it is important to keep the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles and the United States Postal Service informed of your current name and address so that excise bills can be delivered promptly. Vehicle owners who do not receive an excise tax bill should contact the Office of the Treasurer/Collector at 508-760-6131 for a copy of their bill.
- What happens if my payment is late?
If the bill remains outstanding more than thirty (30) days after its issuance, it will continue to accrue interest and other charges and fees for which you will be responsible. Your driver's license and/or vehicle registration will also be submitted to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles for non-renewal action. For more information, contact the Treasurer/Collector's office at 508-760-6131.
Note: It is important to remember that the bill for a vehicle you no longer own should not be ignored. On unpaid excise tax bills, an owner risks incurring late fees and penalties if an abatement is not granted.
- What are the requirements for abatements (adjustment to your bill)?
The Assessor's office must receive abatement applications within 3 years of the date the excise is due or within one year after the excise is paid. Example: Assume that an excise tax bill is due on February 25, 2018. The abatement deadline would be February 25, 2021, OR one year after the payment of the bill, whichever is later.
- How do I cancel my registration (license plates)?
If you no longer own your car and do not plan on using your plates on a new car, you may wish to cancel your registration. You can do this with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You can cancel them online or by making an appointment with the RMV. If you have AAA this may be a service they can assist you with.
You may be entitled to a refund or abatement:
- When vehicle is sold or traded
- When vehicle is registered in another state
- Upon theft of vehicle or total loss
- Documentation is required in all cases, no excise may be reduced to less than $5.
No abatement of less than $5 will be granted and no refund of less than $5 will be made.
Only canceling your registration does not entitle you to an abatement. You must also lose possession of the vehicle in order to be entitled to a refund. Cancelling your registration will prevent future tax bills.
- How do I get an abatement?
Three documents are needed in order to get an abatement:
- The abatement application
- something showing you no longer own the vehicle or that the vehicle is registered in another state
- either a plate cancellation receipt or a copy of the new vehicle's registration showing the plate has been transferred
In order to abate your Motor Vehicle Excise Tax bill, the following document(s) is required along with a completed Application for Abatement and/or your signature on the backside of the Tax bill (top section on the back of the bill):
- Bill of Sale or Trade-in paperwork showing the date of sale or transfer with all pertinent (VIN-make-model) motor vehicle information and either plate cancelation receipt or current registration showing it was transferred to the new vehicle.
- Copy of registration of the vehicle in another state and cancellation of the Massachusetts registration
- If vehicle was donated, a copy of the donation letter from the recipient or with VIN number of the vehicle and either plate cancelation receipt or current registration showing it was transferred to the new vehicle.
- If vehicle was junked, a receipt from the junkyard and either plate cancelation receipt or current registration showing it was transferred to the new vehicle.
- If the vehicle was destroyed, a copy of Total Loss Letter from the insurance company and either plate cancelation receipt or current registration showing it was transferred to the new vehicle.
- If vehicle was gifted, a letter with VIN number of the vehicle and date gifted and either plate cancelation receipt or current registration showing it was transferred to the new vehicle.
Please contact the Town of Dennis Assessing Department with any questions at 508-760-6139.