Abatements & Exemptions
If an owner of a motor vehicle thinks that he/she is entitled to an adjustment of his/her excise bill, it is strongly recommended that he / she pay the bill in full, then contact the local Board of Assessors for an application for abatement. Although payment of a bill is not a precondition for an abatement an owner risks incurring late fees and penalties if an abatement is not granted. The assessors must receive applications for abatement by December 31 of the year following the year of the tax. If the bill is mailed after December 1 of the year following the tax year, application must be made on or before the 30th day from the date of issue or the date of mailing, whichever is later. Abatement's can be handled through the mail; however, the bill should be paid as assessed and a refund will follow if the abatement is granted.
Filing an Abatement
Abatement's can be filed if the owner believes the assessment is incorrect, or if the vehicle was sold during the year in which it is being taxed and the registration was properly cancelled, or if the owner moved, registered the vehicle in another state, and cancelled the registration in Massachusetts, or did not renew the registration in Massachusetts. If the registration is cancelled, it is most important to return the plate(s) to the Registry of Motor Vehicles and obtain a return plate receipt. When an abatement is granted, excise bills are prorated by the month, thus the owner is responsible for the excise accrued through the month in which the car was last registered to him / her.
If the application for abatement is denied at the local level or if a decision is not made within three months of filing, the denial can be appealed to the State Appellate Tax Board. Any abatement granted by the State Appellate Tax Board because of over payment shall be refunded by the city or town treasurer accompanied by six percent interest, calculated from the date of payment of the excise to the date the refund is paid. No interest is due the taxpayer if the Board of Assessors grants the abatement. No abatement can reduce a tax to less than $5, and no abatement of less than $5 will be granted.
Excise Tax Exemptions
Chapter 60A, Section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws provides excise tax exemptions for vehicles owned by certain disabled individuals and veterans, ex-prisoners of war and their surviving spouses and certain charitable organizations. Please contact your local assessor for further details on eligibility. For ex-prisoners of war and their surviving spouses, law allowing the exemption for the motor vehicle excise must be accepted by the city or town to be applicable.
For More Information
Questions about your motor vehicle excise should be directed to you local board of assessors. It is best to put all questions in writing and to request a written response so that procedures are clearly defined should additional difficulties arise. It is also important to remember that deputy tax collectors or collection agencies are agents of your local tax collector. Complaints concerning the performance of their duties should therefore be directed to your local tax assessor.
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.
Information provided by:
William Francis Galvin
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Citizen Information Service
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: 800-392-6090 (Toll Free)