How to Calculate Massachusetts Car Tax

January 27, 2012

If you reside in Massachusetts and have recently purchased a new or used vehicle, you're liable to pay Massachusetts car tax, also known as excise. As a general guideline, if you've purchased the vehicle from a car dealer in Massachusetts, you're responsible for paying the entire sales tax amount. On the other hand, if you've purchased a vehicle from another state, and Massachusetts has reciprocity with that state, you will have to pay the difference between the Massachusetts state auto sales tax and the car tax of the state where the vehicle was purchased. If no reciprocity exists, the entire sales tax amount will have to be paid.

Calculating Massachusetts Car Sales Tax:

  • Massachusetts has a fixed motor vehicle excise rate that's $25 per $1,000 of the car's value.
  • To find out the value of your car, you will have to visit the Mass.gov website and refer to the Motor Vehicle and Trailer Excise Manual that can be downloaded. The value of any given vehicle is based on a certain percentage of the manufacturer's suggested retail price. It could also be understood as the manufacturer's list price for any given vehicle, rather than the actual selling price of the car. Since the percentage used to calculate the excise tax varies by year, refer to the percentages listed on CH.60A of the Motor Vehicle and Trailer Excise Manual.
  • To cite an example, if a 2000 model year vehicle was purchased in 1999 with a manufacturer's list price of $17,000, the excise charged for the first year of purchase would amount to $212.50. The formula used to calculate this is the Manufacturer's List Price x Ch.60A percentage = Value for Excise. Value for Excise x Rate ($25 or 0.025) = Excise Amount.

It's important to abide by the law and pay taxes and fees on time. As a car owner, make sure you also carry the necessary liability and property damage coverage required by your state.

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