Motor Vehicle Excise Tax

Under Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) Chapter 60A, all Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise tax. Also, under MGL Chapter 59, Section 2, 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 excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.

  1. If You've Moved
  2. If Your Vehicle is Sold
  3. If Your Vehicle is Traded
  4. If Your Vehicle is Stolen
  5. If Your Vehicle is Leased

If a motor vehicle owner moves within Massachusetts and has not paid an excise tax for the current year, he/she should immediately notify the local assessor of his/her new address. The owner must pay the motor vehicle excise to the city or town in which he/she resided on January 1. 

If the owner moved before the first of the year, he/she must pay the tax to the new community to which the owner moved. If the owner did not notify the Registry, the local assessor, and the post office that he/she moved before the first of the year, it may be necessary to file for an abatement with the former city or town which had sent the excise bill. Most cities or towns will dismiss the bill and reroute it to the new community once the owner furnishes proof that he/she had moved before the first of the year.

Moving Outside the State

If the owner of a vehicle moves out of Massachusetts and registers their vehicle in another state and cancels his/her Massachusetts registration or does not renew the Massachusetts registration, he/she can file an application for an abatement for that portion of the year after the month in which the motor vehicle was registered in the new state or in which the Massachusetts registration was cancelled, whichever is the later. 

Lost Plate Receipt

A person who has moved out-of-state must cancel the registration in Massachusetts and obtain a "lost plate receipt" from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles in order to avoid problems with an excise tax abatement application. Please note a lost plate receipt is issued to those who turn over their Massachusetts license plates to another state’s department of motor vehicles for the purpose of registering their car in the other state.

For More Information

Questions about your motor vehicle excise should be directed to your local Board of Assessors. For more information, visit the following Massachusetts Department of Revenue website, or contact the office at 617-626-2300.

Important Reminder

Remember that when you register a motor vehicle, a motor vehicle excise bill is generated and you are responsible for its payment. If you move within Massachusetts or out-of-state, if you sell or trade your motor vehicle, or if it is stolen, you need to make every effort to obtain the bill, to pay it, and then to apply for an abatement if you are eligible.

And lastly, to avoid not receiving an excise tax bill on time, please keep the Registry, your local tax assessor, and the post office aware of your current mailing address.