Motor Vehicle Excise Tax FAQs

Motor Vehicle Excise Tax

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What is Motor Vehicle Excise Tax?
Chapter 60A of Massachusetts General Laws imposes an excise for the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or a trailer on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The excise is levied annually in lieu of a tangible personal property tax. Non-registered vehicles, however, remain subject to the taxation as personal property.

The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenues become part of the local community treasury.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according to the information on the motor vehicle registration and sends it to city or town assessors. Cities and towns then prepare bills based on excise data sent by the Registry in compliance with Registry requirements.

How is the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax determined?
The amount of the excise is based on the value of the motor vehicle that is based upon the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP), not your purchase price. Various percentages of the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) are applied.

In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture (brand new car released before model year): 50%

In the designated 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%

Once the value of the vehicle is determined, and excise at the rate of $25.00 per thousand is assessed. Excises are assessed annually, on a calendar year basis, by the assessors of the city or town in which the vehicle is garaged.

If a vehicle is registered after January 31, it is taxed for the period extending from the first day of the month in which it is registered to the end of the calendar year. For example, if a vehicle is registered on April 30, it will taxable as of April 1, for the nine months of the year (April through December). In no event shall the excise be assessed for less than $5.00 nor shall an abatement or refund under Section 1 of Chapter 60A reduce and excise to less than $5.00.

Where should I mail the motor vehicle excise tax payment?
Please mail payment to:

Collector's Office
Town of Reading
P. O. Box 1006
Reading, MA 01867

Please make checks payable to: Town of Reading.

For proper crediting, write the bill number on the check and enclosed the top portion of your tax bill. To obtain a receipt, enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope and both portions of the bill with the payment, one will be stamped paid and returned.

When are the payments due for motor excise tax?
Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due within 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued (not mailed, as is popularly believed).

NOTE: A person who does not receive a bill is still liable for the excise plus any interest charges accrued. Therefore, it is important to keep the Registry, the Town of Reading and the post office informed of a current name and address so that the excise bills can be delivered promptly.

All owners of motor vehicles must pay an excise tax; therefore, it is the responsibility of the owner to contact the Office of the Tax Collector if you have not received a bill.

What if I do not receive an Excise Tax bill?
You can request a statement by calling the Collector's Office at (781) 942-9023.

What if I mail in my Motor Vehicle Excise Tax payment late?
If an excise is not paid within 30 days from the issue date the account will be assessed a $25.00 demand charge plus interest. If payment in full (including the demand and interest charge) is not received within 14 days of the date of issued of the demand, the excise is turned over to the Deputy Collector of Taxes for collection.

My vehicles registration and drivers license has been marked for non-renewal at the Registry of Motor vehicles, how do I clear this at the registry?
You must contact the Deputy Collector at (781) 944-8504. Once payment of all outstanding Excise is made by Money Order, Bank Check or cash, personal checks are not accepted,  the Deputy Collector will clear your registration and driver license at the Registry you can return to the Registry to renew your registration or license

Can I make partial payments on Motor Vehicle Excise Tax?
NO - this is according to state law. Only payment in full for each excise tax bill is accepted, any partial payment will be returned to the taxpayer via US mail, payment in full includes all charges and interest.

What do I do if I sell or trade my car?
If an excise bill is received for a vehicle, which was traded it is recommended to pay the bill in full; and provide a copy of the new registration and statement showing trade in of vehicle with an application for abatement with the Assessors Office. (781) 942-9027.

If an excise bill is received for a vehicle which has been sold it is recommended to:

Pay the bill in full, and Return the Plates to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Bring in a Plate Return Receipt and a bill of sale to apply for an abatement with the Assessors Office (781) 942-9027. A refund will be issued for any abatement credited for the sale or trad.

What do I do if I move out of Reading?
If a motor vehicle owner moves within Massachusetts, he/she should:

Pay the motor vehicle excise if he/she resided in the Town of Reading on January 1st.

If the owner moved before the first of the year, he/she must pay the tax to the new community to which the owner moved. If the owner did not notify the Registry that he/she moved before the first of the year, it may be necessary to file for an abatement with the Town of Reading, which had sent the excise bill.

File the abatement at the Town of Reading Assessors Office (781) 942-9027.
If a motor vehicle owner moves out of Massachusetts, he/she should:
Pay the motor vehicle if he/she resided in the Town of Reading on January 1st.

Return the plates to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Massachusetts
Get a Return Plate Receipt
Apply for a partial refund with the Town of Reading Assessors Office (781) 942-9027.