Assessors have jurisdiction to abate any motor vehicle excise for which a timely filed application is received and for a variety of reasons. To be timely filed, an application must be received by the assessors within three years after the excise was due, or one year after the excise was paid, whichever is later. See the form to use for all excise abatements (PDF).
Following is a list of reasons that would entitle you to an abatement. In order for an abatement to be granted, you must file an application for abatement and provide the Assessors' Office with a copy of your Plate Return Receipt (if plate was cancelled) or new Registration from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (plate was transferred to another vehicle) and:
If You Traded or Sold the Vehicle
Provide a copy of the dealer's sales contract, or a copy of the bill of sale.
If the Vehicle Was Junked or Repossessed
Provide a copy of the junkyard receipt or letter from the finance company stating when the vehicle was taken.
If the Vehicle Was a Total Loss
Provide a letter from your insurance company showing the accident date, and that they deemed the vehicle a total loss.
If the Vehicle Was Stolen
Provide a letter from your insurance company showing the date of settlement.
If the Vehicle Was Registered in Another State
Provide a copy of the Out of State Registration.
If the Vehicle Was Registered in Another Town in Massachusetts
Your excise tax is due to the city or town in which your vehicle is primarily garaged on January 1st. If you moved prior to January 1st, provide a copy of your current registration showing your new address.
It is necessary to provide the Assessors with a copy of the Plate Return Receipt from the Registry of Motor Vehicles; or if the plate was transferred to another vehicle, a copy of the new registration.
The minimum motor vehicle excise tax shall be $5.
No abatement shall reduce the motor vehicle excise tax to less than $5.
No abatement shall be issued on a motor vehicle excise tax bill for less than $5.
No abatement shall be granted on a registration that is canceled in the month of December.
The cancellation of a license plate alone does not warrant an abatement of motor vehicle excise tax. If you are still in possession of the vehicle, you owe the tax through the end of the calendar year.
All vehicles registered as of January 1st will receive a tax bill from the community in which your vehicle is garaged. You determine this at the time you register your vehicle.
If you move during the year to another city or town, it is the taxpayer's responsibility to change his/her mailing address and vehicle's place of garaging with the Registry of Motor Vehicles prior to January 1st, so that your future tax bills reach you at your new address.
To cancel the registration on any motor vehicle, the plates must be canceled with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, either by mailing them in or online. The mailing address is:
Registry of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889
If lost or stolen, you must fill out a lost plate affidavit at the Registry of Motor Vehicles. You can reach them at 617-351-9380.
See additional Registry of Motor Vehicle information.
Filing for an abatement does not remove the taxpayer's obligation to pay the taxes. To avoid charges and penalties, you should pay your tax and then file for your abatement. A refund will follow, if granted.