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Motor Vehicle Excise Tax

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What is Excise and Who Gets it?

Excise tax on motor vehicles is an annual tax for the privilege of registration. Every motor vehicle and trailer registered in Massachusetts is subject to excise tax unless expressly exempted. Registering a motor vehicle automatically triggers an excise tax. The city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged levies the excise annually. The Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according to the information on the motor vehicle registration and sends it to the City or Town. Cities and Towns then prepare bills based on the excise data provided by the Registry of Motor vehicles. Anyone with Massachusetts plates registered in their name gets a bill every year for as long as the plates are active in the RMV’s system.

What if I Don’t Have the Car Anymore?

If you receive an excise tax for a vehicle you no longer own, you may qualify for an abatement, or adjustment, on the bill, but you must provide proof that you no longer own the car AND proof of the registration cancellation or transfer. Any required documentation must be presented to the Assessor’s office to receive an abatement.

If any of the situations listed below apply to an excise tax billed in your name, please supply applicable documents to the Assessor’s office. You can call their office if you need more information, (413) 322-5550.

If the motor vehicle has been:

  • Sold or Traded – Bill of Sale AND plate return receipt or new registration if plates were transferred
  • Stolen or Total Loss – Police report or insurance settlement letter AND plate return receipt, affidavit of lost or stolen plates from RMV (form C-19), or new registration if plates were transferred
  • Repossessed – Notice from lien holder AND plate return receipt, form C-19, or new registration if plates were transferred
  • Junked – Receipt from junk yard AND plate return receipt, form C-19, or new registration if plates were transferred
  • Returned to dealer (lemon law) – Letter from dealer certifying return AND plate return receipt or new registration if plates were transferred
  • Moved from Holyoke before Jan. 1 of tax year – Proof of residency prior to Jan. 1 of tax year (e.g. utility bill, lease) AND proof of notifying RMV of move before Jan. 1.
  • Moved Out of State – Date of move AND registration from new state
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