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Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Frequently Asked Questions

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 generates 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. Even if a plate is revoked, they remain active until they are either cancelled or expire.

How Much is it?

The excise tax rate is $25.00 per thousand. This is the standard for the entire Commonwealth. The valuation is based on the rates set by the state and are assessed according to the manufacturer’s list price. This taxable value is adjusted each year according to the following schedule:

  • Year prior to model year:  50% of the manufacturer’s list price
  • Model year:  90%
  • Second-year:  60%
  • Third-year:  40%
  • Fourth-year:  25%
  • Fifth-year and each year thereafter:  10%

When Are They Due?

Payments are due 30 days from the issue date. A person who does not receive a bill is still liable for the excise tax. Therefore, it is important to keep the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Post Office informed of the current name and address so that the excise tax bill can be delivered promptly.

What Are the Late Fees?

If an excise is not paid within 30 days from the date of issue a demand bill is sent. The charge for a demand bill is $15.00. Interest accrues on the overdue bill from the day after the due date until payment is received. The interest rate on excise is 12%. If the demand bill is not paid within 14 days, the collector may issue a warrant to the deputy tax collector Kelley & Ryan Associates. The deputy tax collector sends the warrant notice to the taxpayer with additional fees of $22.00 due within 30 days. If payment is still not received, the deputy will deliver a service warrant with an additional fee of $17.00. All bills will clearly state the interest and penalty charges.

What Happens if They Are Not Paid?

If the service warrant demanding final payment is not paid, the deputy collector may then notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles of such non-payment. The Registry will then mark the individual’s registration preventing the renewal of the motor vehicle registration and the owner’s driver’s license. The taxpayer will then be assessed a $20.00 mark fee in addition to all other penalties and interest. It is the policy of the City of Holyoke to NOT release any marked bill until ALL OUTSTANDING delinquent excise tax bills for a taxpayer are PAID IN FULL. Once full payment is made, the City will call to electronically clear the mark. This will enable the motorist to return to the Registry and renew his/her license or registration.

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 – 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 – MA plate cancellation receipt AND registration from new state
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