Topsfield Assessor's Office
Motor Vehicle and Trailer Excise
Under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 60A, an excise shall be assessed on every motor vehicle and trailer registered during the calendar year.
The excise is imposed on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle and is not a property tax. It therefore applies to anyone who registers a motor vehicle in Massachusetts.
Each vehicle is taxed from the first day of the month in which it is registered for the balance of the year. The proceeds become a part of the general funds of the municipality and have the effect of reducing the property tax.
The minimum motor vehicle excise is $5.00 regardless of the value of the vehicle or length of registration.
No abatement may reduce the excise payable to less than $5.00. No amount abated shall be refunded if less than $5.00.
The value of a motor vehicle for excise purposes is determined by the Commissioner of Revenue at varying percentages of the manufacturer's list price in the year of manufacture as follows:
- In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture - 50%
- In the year of manufacture - 90%
- In the second year - 60%
- In the third year - 40%
- In the fourth year - 25%
- In the fifth and succeeding years - 10%
Condition and market value are not considerations in determining the value, nor is age after the fifth year.
The rate is fixed at $25.00 per thousand of value.
An excise is assessed on a motor vehicle or trailer by the assessors of the municipality in which the vehicle is customarily garaged. The excise is based on information furnished on the application for registration. The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle must be notified of any corrections i.e. name, model, registration number, make or year of manufacture, mailing address or place of garaging, etc.
Assessors have jurisdiction to abate any motor vehicle excise for which a timely application State Tax Form 126-MVE - long or State Tax Form 126-MVE - short is filed. To be timely filed, an application must be received by the assessors within three years after the excise was due, or one year after the excise was paid, whichever is later.
Two actions are necessary for qualification of an abatement. A vehicle owner must both (a) convey title to the vehicle and (b) cancel or transfer the registration on that vehicle. The performance of one of these actions, alone, does not qualify a person for an abatement.
An abatement is in order in the following cases:
- When the motor vehicle is sold, traded, junked (no longer in the possession of the registrant) and the registration is cancelled or transferred to another vehicle.
- When a motor vehicle is transferred to another state or country with proof of registration in such other state or country and proof of cancellation of registration in Massachusetts.
- When a motor vehicle is overvalued.
- When there is subsequent registration of the same vehicle in the same year by the same person.
- When vehicle is stolen and notification of theft within 48 hours is given to police and certificate of registration surrendered not less than thirty (30) days after the theft and presents a certificate of cancellation from the Registry verifying the vehicle has been stolen.
A proportionate abatement of the excise may be granted if any of the above conditions are met and the application is properly filed.
The law governing motor vehicle excise taxes makes no provision for an abatement on the tax for the reason of moving from one city or town to another during the year. The tax is due to the municipality in which it is originally registered on January 1st.
Application for abatement or refund must be filed with the Board of Assessors in writing on an approved form. Forms for applying for abatement will be mailed on request from the Assessors’ Office.
The filing of an application does not stay the collection of the excise. To avoid interest, charges and collection action, you must pay the excise as billed by the due date.
The excise is due and payable within 30 days of the date of issue. Non-payment will result in additional charges and will lead to non-renewal of the vehicle's registration and of the taxpayer's license.
If a registration or taxpayer's license is marked for non-renewal at the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles, a filing fee together with payment of delinquent excises and any additional charges is required to restore it.
Please go to the following links for additional information:
If you have any questions, please contact the Assessors’ Office (978-887-1514).