Motor Vehicle Excise Information

Chapter 60A of Massachusetts General Laws imposes an excise on the privilege of registering a motor vehicle or a trailer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The excise is levied annually in lieu of a tangible personal property tax.
The excise is levied by the city or town where the vehicle is principally garaged and the revenue becomes part of the local community treasury. Please read on for information related to 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 city or town assessors. Cities and towns then prepare bills based on excise data sent by the Registry in conformity with Department of Revenue requirements.

Valuation figures are based on the manufacturers’ list price (MSRP) of a vehicle in its year of manufacture. Present market value, price paid, mileage, and condition are not considered in the valuation process.  The excise tax law (M.G.L. c.60A, s.1) establishes the formula for valuation for excise tax purposes whereby only the MSRP and the age of the motor vehicle are considered. Here’s how valuations are calculated:

  • In the year preceding the designated year of manufacture (new vehicle released in calendar year prior to model year): Valuation = 50% of MSRP
  • In the designated year of manufacture: Valuation = 90% of MSRP
  • In the second-year: Valuation = 60% of MSRP
  • In the third-year: Valuation = 40% of MSRP
  • In the fourth-year: Valuation = 25% of MSRP
  • In the fifth and succeeding years: Valuation =10% of MSRP.


Once the value of the vehicle is determined, an excise rate of $25.00 per thousand is applied to the valuation. Excise tax is assessed annually, on a calendar year basis, by the assessors of the city or town in which the vehicle is garaged.
If the motor 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 be taxable as of April 1, for the nine months of the year (April through December) and the excise due, therefore, will be 9/12 of the full excise. 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 an excise to less than $5.00.

Local tax collectors are responsible for collecting motor vehicle and trailer excise. Generally, tax collectors and deputy tax collectors do not accept partial payment of an excise bill. Taxpayers should be prepared to pay the full amount due. There are no special considerations for financial hardship.

Abatements – A motor vehicle excise abatement might be warranted:

  • If, there is an error in the valuation (based on the above-mentioned MSRP).
  • If, the vehicle was traded, and the registration has been transferred to another vehicle, or if the registration has been cancelled.
  • If, the vehicle was stolen and the appropriate cancelations and forms have been filed with the Police and Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  • If, the vehicle was sold during the year in which it is being taxed and the registration was properly cancelled, or transferred to a subsequent vehicle.
  • If, the owner moved from the Town of Sudbury to another Massachusetts city or town, before January 1st. There is no provision for abatement when moving from one municipality to another during the course of the calendar year.  Excise is generally only paid to one Massachusetts municipality per year and it is where the vehicle is garaged and registered from on January 1st of the calendar year.  Unlike other fees and charges, base excise amounts do not vary from municipality to municipality.  Vehicle owners pay the same base excise regardless of which municipality issues the bill. 
  • If, the owner moved to another state and cancelled the registration in Massachusetts. In order to meet the criteria for abatement, the MA registration must be cancelled and the vehicle must be registered in the subsequent state. Moving out of state is not in itself a reason for abatement. 

 When an abatement is granted, excise bills are prorated monthly. The owner is responsible for the excise accrued through the month in which the vehicle was last registered to them.

If you believe an excise tax bill was issued in error, please do not simply ignore the bill!  Regardless of the reason, please reach out to the staff in the assessor’s office and we will attempt to assist with a resolution. Owners risk incurring late fees and penalties on unpaid or late paid excise bills. If you have a question please ask! 

For questions regarding abatements please contact:

Assessor’s Office (978) 639-3393 278 Old Sudbury Rd. Sudbury, MA. 01776

 To file for abatement:

Please find as attached an abatement application which may be filled out and returned to the Assessing Department.

 For questions regarding payments please contact:

Treasurer/Collector Office (978-639-3376) 278 Old Sudbury Rd. Sudbury, MA. 01776

To cancel a registration, change an address of a registered vehicle, as well as many other actions please contact:

Registry of Motor Vehicles: