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There are several sources included in the compilation of the list of vessels and/or the equipment to receive excise tax. The main source is the list provided by the Massachusetts Environmental Police of all registered vessels in the Town of Dennis. In addition, information is received from the marinas listing all vessels that are moored or docked at the marina as well as those identified by the Harbormaster (private docks, Town-owned slips/moorings, etc.). This information contains not only the registration number but the type and size of the vessel.
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Chapter 60B of Massachusetts General Law imposes an excise on the privilege of registering a vessel, and its equipment, to utilize the waterways of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The excise is levied annually by a measured value at a rate of ten dollars per thousand of valuation unless expressly exempted. Non-registered vehicles, however, may be subject to taxation as personal property. The excise is levied by the city or town where the vessel resides and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.
Any person who owns such a vessel on July 1 shall annually, on or before August 1, make a return on oath to the assessors of the city or town where such vessel is to be moored or docked, or in the case of a vessel which has no mooring or docking space, where said vessel is principally situated, setting forth the vessel's registration or documentation number, if any; an adequate description, as well as the owner's estimate of the fair cash value of the said vessel and any engine or motor used to propel, said vessel, as of the next preceding July 1, and the place of habitual mooring or docking or other principal location of said vessel. All sums received from the excise imposed under this Chapter are paid into the treasury of the city or town and fifty % of the excise is credited to the municipal waterways improvement and maintenance fund established under the provisions of Section 5G of Chapter 40.
Excise tax is assessed annually, July 1 through June 30, (example: the FY2022 tax bills will be for the period of July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022). For the purpose of computing the excise under this chapter the value of each vessel, and its equipment, shall be deemed to be the fair cash value as determined by the assessors of each city and town, but not in excess of the following values:
Once the value of the vessel is determined, an excise at the rate of $10 per thousand of valuation is assessed. Excise tax is assessed annually, July 1 through June 30, by the assessors. If the vessel is registered after July 1, the tax will be issued in the next Fiscal Year. For example, if a vessel is registered on August 30, it will be taxable as of July 1 in the following Fiscal Year. In no event shall the excise be assessed for less than $5, nor shall abatement or refund reduce an excise to less than $5.
Local tax collectors are responsible for collecting boat 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.
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. For more information, contact the Treasurer/Collector's office at 508-760-6131.
If the bill remains unpaid and outstanding more than thirty (30) days after its issue date, 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 please contact of the Office of the Treasurer/Collector.
If boat ownership is transferred by sale or otherwise, or if during the fiscal year, the boat owner relocates it to another state and registers the boat in the other state and has surrendered/does not renew the registration in this state, the excise shall be prorated to the amount of time that the vessel was registered. The minimum boat excise assessment is $5.
Contact the Assessor's office at 508-760-6139 for an application for abatement OR print out a form using the link below. Follow the instructions on the form and send it to the Assessor's Office located at 685 Route 134, South Dennis, MA 02660, along with the required documentation.
If you no longer own your boat, please be sure that you cancel your title and registration with the Massachusetts Environmental Police. This will help prevent future tax bills as we get the majority of our registration information from them. Click the DEP Cancellation Form link below to cancel your title and registration.
Note: It is important to remember that the bill for a vessel you no longer own should not be ignored. On unpaid excise tax bills, an owner risks incurring late fees and penalties if abatement is not granted.
In order to abate a Boat Excise Tax bill, the following document(s) is required along with a completed Application for Abatement and your signature on the backside of the Tax bill (top section on the back of bill) or fill out a Boat Abatement Form (PDF) and DEP Cancellation Form (PDF).
Please contact the Town of Dennis Assessing Department with any questions at 508-760-6139.
You only owe Boat Excise Tax once a year and to only one location. If you have paid your Boat Excise to another town, please provide a copy of the tax bill showing it was paid so we can abate the bill here in Dennis.
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.
Boat excise shall not apply to vessels owned by the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision thereof; to law enforcement vessels; to vessels under construction; to ferries; to boats, fishing gear, and nets owned and actually used by the owner in the prosecution of his business if engaged exclusively in commercial fishing, with a total value of ten thousand dollars or less; nor to other vessels with a value of one thousand dollars or less. Exemptions are granted with the proper documentation (i.e., Schedule C or Coast Guard Registration documents).
Changes of address for Boat Excise Tax can be done by contacting the Assessing Department at 508-760-6139. It is advised that notification also be provided to the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) at 800-632-8075 for registration purposes.
Boat Excise Tax is for the privilege of using the Commonwealth's waterways (MGL Chapter 60B). The Waterways Fee is for maintenance of the waterways and dredging as voted on at the Annual Town Meeting of May 7, 1991 (Article 43).
If you have questions regarding Waterways, Waterways Fees, Moorings/Slip Fees, Harbor Parking, or related subjects, please contact the Harbormaster's Office at 508-760-6159.