Motor Vehicle Information

All Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise. It is important to note that every motor vehicle, whether registered or not, is subject to taxation, either as excise or personal property, for the privilege of road use, whether actual or future.


The Registry of Motor Vehicles, according to the information on the Motor Vehicle Registration, prepares excise bills. They are sent to the Town Assessors who commit them to local Tax Collectors for distribution and collection of payment.

When you register a motor vehicle, a motor vehicle excise bill is generated and you are responsible for payment. If you move within Massachusetts or out-of-state, if you sell or trade your motor vehicle, or it is stolen, you are responsible to pay the bill then you can apply for abatement (please see below Motor Vehicle Abatements to determine if you are eligible for an abatement).


Please keep your registration current at the Registry of Motor Vehicles so your tax bill will arrive on time and avoid any penalties and interest charges accrued from late payments.

Motor Vehicle Computation & Valuation

An excise at the rate of $25 per one thousand dollars of valuation is levied on each motor vehicle. Information on the value of a motor vehicle is accessed electronically through a data bank complete with valuation figures. Figures are the manufacturers' suggested retail prices (MSRP) for vehicles in their year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid or condition is not considered for excise tax purposes. The excise tax law 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. The formula is as follows:

In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture (brand new car released before model year)

In the designated year of manufacture


In the second year

In the third year


In the fourth year


In the fifth and succeeding years


Every motor vehicle owner must pay an excise tax based on valuation of at least ten % of the MSRP. Vehicles older than five years should have a fixed excise tax bill for succeeding years of ownership. Even though an owner may have applied for an abatement that may reduce an excise tax bill, no excise shall be less than $5.

Motor Vehicle Abatements

If an owner of a motor vehicle thinks they are entitled to an adjustment of their bill, it is strongly recommended that the bill be paid in full, then contact the Assessors office for an abatement.

Abatements can be filed for the following reasons:

  • If the owner believes the valuation is incorrect - The value should be disputed with the Registry of Motor Vehicle. Except for trailers, we will need to see the registration, (which shows the weight).
  • If the vehicle was sold during the year in which it is being taxed and the plates were cancelled - The Assessors Office needs to see the Registration Cancellation Receipt along with the bill of sale.
  • If the vehicle was traded and the plates were transferred - The Assessors Office needs to see a copy of the new registration along with the Purchase and Sale Agreement (showing the trade in).
  • If the vehicle owner moved out of Massachusetts and registered their vehicle in another state and cancelled the Massachusetts registration - The Assessors Office needs to see a copy of the new out of state registration along with the MA Registration Cancellation Receipt (this will prevent any future bills).
  • If the vehicle owner moves within Massachusetts - The owner must pay the excise to the town in which they resided on January 1. (You need to change your registration at the Registry within 30 days of your move so your new City or Town will pick you up for the following year).
  • If the vehicle was totaled - The Assessors Office needs to see a copy of the Registration Cancellation Receipt or New Registration along with the letter from the insurance company deeming the car a total loss.
  • If the vehicle was stolen - The Assessors Office needs a copy of the lost/stolen receipt (C-19) from the Registry of Motor Vehicles along with the police report.
  • If the vehicle was a lease car - The lease company should apply for abatement.

Access the Abatement Application (PDF).