What do I need to know about motor vehicle excise?

According to the Department of Revenue, the motor vehicle excise is imposed for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle. It is an assessment in lieu of a personal property tax, however it is billed on a calendar year, not a fiscal year like real and personal property. The amount of the motor vehicle excise due on any particular vehicle or trailer in any registration year is calculated by multiplying the “value” of the vehicle by the motor vehicle excise tax rate. That rate is fixed at $25.00 per thousand dollars of value. (The $25.00 rate is the same in all 352 towns and cities in Massachusetts. It does not change like the property tax rate.). The value of a vehicle for the purpose of determining excise is a percentage of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for that vehicle based on the year of manufacture. The applicable percentages are set out in MGL Ch. 60A § 1 as follows: 

In the year preceding the year of manufacture 50% of manufacturer’s suggested retail price, In the year of manufacture 90%, In the second year 60%, In the third year 40%, In the fourth year 25%, In the fifth year and succeeding years 10%.

The manufacturer’s list price for any particular vehicle is the price recommended by the manufacturer as the selling price of that vehicle new. It is the manufacturer’s list price rather than the actual purchase price that is used as the value for purposes of calculating the motor vehicle excise. The following example illustrates how excise amounts are calculated.

Year of Purchase                                                                                                                     List Price times % times $25 per $1000 = Excise Bill

Preceding model year (2008 model in 2007)                                                                     $45,000 x 50% = $22,500 x .025 = $562.50

Same year as model year (2008 model in 2008)                                                               $45,000 x 90% = $40,500 x .025 = $1,012.50

Second year (2007 model in 2008)                                                                                      $45,000 x 60% = $27,000 x .025 = $675.00

Third year (2006 model in 2008)                                                                                          $45,000 x 40% = $18,000 x .025 = $450.00

Fourth Year (2005 model in 2008)                                                                                       $45,000 x 25% = $11,250 x .025 = $281.25

Fifth Year (2004 model in 2008)                                                                                          $45,000 x 10% = $4,500 x .025 = $112.50


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1. What are property taxes?
2. When and how is property valued?
3. Who are the Assessors?
4. When and where does the board meet?
5. What are the Assessors’ responsibilities?
6. Why is the previous owner’s name (seller/grantor) on the real estate tax bill when I am the “new” owner?
7. How can I reduce my property tax bill? / What is an abatement? / Are there other ways to lower my taxes?
8. What is Market value?
9. What is Longmeadow’s fiscal year?
10. When are changes to the improvements applied to the property value as compared to changes in value due to market conditions?
11. What is real property?
12. What is real estate?
13. What is personal property?
14. How is the property tax rate calculated?
15. What is Proposition 2½?
16. What do I need to know about motor vehicle excise?
17. Questions or Comments