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Motor Vehicle Excise Tax

What is motor vehicle excise tax?

It 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 Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according to the information on the motor vehicle registration and sends it to the Town Assessors. Towns then prepare and send the bills based on the excise data provided by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Who must pay excise tax?

Under MGL Chapter 60A, all Massachusetts residents who own and register a motor vehicle must annually pay a motor vehicle excise.  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 Town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.

What is the rate?

The rate is $25.00 per thousand. This is the Motor Vehicle Excise tax rate  for the entire Commonwealth. The valuation is based on the rates set by the state and are assessed according to manufacturer’s list price. For more information on assessed value, contact the Assessor’s office at 508-393-5005 or visit their web page.

When is payment due?

Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued.  According to Chapter 60A, Section 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws, "Failure to receive notice shall not affect the validity of the excise".  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 happens if my payment is late?

If an excise is not paid within 30 days from the date of issue, the Tax Collector will send a demand, with a fee for $5.00. In addition, interest will  accrue on the overdue bill at an annual rate of 12 percent from the day after the due date until payment is received. If the demand bill is not paid within 14 days, the Tax Collector may issue a warrant to the deputy tax collector which carries another $10.00 fee. The deputy tax collector issues a warrant notice to the taxpayer with an additional fee of $12.00. If payment is still not received, the deputy will serve or deliver a final warrant to the taxpayer at his/her residence or workplace, at a fee of $17.00.  All bills will clearly state the interest and penalty charges.

How does non-payment of excise affect my license and registration?

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. Once payment is made, the Town will clear the mark at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.  This will enable the taxpayer to return to the Registry and renew his/her license or registration. To request your balance on a bill that has gone to warrant, you may contact the Deputy Tax Collector at 508-473-9660.

What if I have moved out of Northborough?

The owner of a vehicle must pay the motor vehicle excise to the city or town in which he/she resided on Janauary 1st.  

So, if the owner moved before the first of the year, he/she must pay the excise tax to the new community to which the owner moved. If the owner of a vehicle moved after the first of the year, the City or Town that he/she resided in as of January 1st will generate a bill.

If you feel the wrong City or Town has billed you, you may qualify for abatement and rebill. To do this, contact the Assessor’s office at 508-393-5005.

What if I have moved out of Massachusetts?

If the owner of a vehicle has moved out of Massachusetts and registers his/her car in another state but still receives a bill, notify the Assessor’s office at 508-393-5005. Please note that the Registry of Motor Vehicles strongly encourages a person who has moved to another state to cancel the registration in Massachusetts in order to avoid problems with excise tax abatement or future registration.

What if I no longer own my car?

Contact the Assessor’s office at 508-393-5005 for abatement instructions. You may also refer to their departmental web site.

Northborough Town Hall  63 Main Street, Northborough, MA 01532
Hours -- Mon, Wed, Thu 8am-4pm  Tue 8am-7pm  Fri 7am-12pm