Excise Tax Abatement

Excise Tax Abatement

Assessors possess jurisdiction to abate a motor vehicle excise only if an application for abatement is timely filed.

Effective August 9, 2004, the following deadlines apply to motor vehicle excise tax abatement requests:

  • Assessors must receive motor vehicle and excise abatement applications within 3 years after the excise was due, or 1 year after the excise was paid, whichever is later. Once registered in the year, a bill can be abated only if the vehicle is sold, traded, junked, totaled or otherwise disposed of, and the plates transferred to another vehicle or canceled. If the vehicle is disposed of and the plates have not been canceled, no abatement can be issued. If the plates have been canceled or transferred and the vehicle is not disposed of, no abatement can be issued.

Use the Motor Vehicle Excise Abatement Form (PDF) to file for an abatement. This form is also available at the Assessor's Office. It may be helpful to remember that in order for the Board of Assessors to consider your abatement request, we always need 2 documents from you:

  • Proof of what happened to the plate
  • Proof of what happened to the vehicle

Cancel your plates or transfer them to another vehicle. When disposing of your vehicle, keep a copy of the bill of sale, receipt, or insurance final disposition letter. 


Other Reasons for Abatement

  • If the vehicle is re-registered in another state and the Massachusetts plates have been returned;
  • If the vehicle is overvalued;
  • If there is a subsequent registration (the same vehicle registered by the same person more than once in the same year);
  • Incorrect place of garaging

There is no abatement for moving from 1 community to another within the state of Massachusetts. The bill is due to the community where the vehicle was originally registered on January 1st of that year.

Recent Regulatory Changes

These changes now allow Assessors to abate motor vehicle or boat excises in certain circumstances where the taxpayer did not apply for an abatement on time, but only if the excise is still outstanding. Abatements at the discretion of the Assessor must also be consistent with DOR guidelines. Any action on a late filed application is solely discretionary, and can not be appealed to any local or state board, agency or official. However, the taxpayer may file an abatement application within 1 year of payment of the bill.

The filing of an application does not stay the collection of your excise tax. It should be paid as assessed. If an excise tax bill is not paid when due, interest and penalties will accrue. If an abatement is granted, and the bill has been paid, a refund will be issued.