Motor Vehicle Excise Tax

The motor vehicle excise tax is imposed on every motor vehicle and trailer registered in Massachusetts. The tax is imposed for the privilege of using the roadways and for registering a motor vehicle. The registration process of a motor vehicle automatically triggers the assessment of the excise.

Excise bills are prepared by the Registry of Motor Vehicles according to the information on the motor vehicle registration. The Town receives the bills via electronic media from the Registry of Motor Vehicles, mails the bills and collects the tax. The Town does not set the value of the vehicle or compile the information on your bill.

Motor Vehicle Excise Tax bills are issued on a calendar-year basis. The bill is owed to the community where the vehicle or trailer was garaged as of January 1. The address of the registrant is based upon the registration address provided by the owner to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

Vehicles registered for a portion of a calendar year are eligible for proration based upon whole months. For new registrations, this occurs automatically. For cancelled or changed registrations, it is up to the owner to notify the Board of Assessors. The minimum assessment for a motor vehicle excise tax is $ 5.00.

Owners of vehicles registered as of January 1 can expect to receive a bill by late February or early March. A new registration normally produces a bill two to three months afterwards.

The most common source of taxpayer confusion arises when a vehicle is registered late in the calendar year. This generates a tax bill early in the next calendar year, which may be followed soon thereafter by a full year bill for the new calendar year. Each bill identifies the year prominently. Taxpayers should make note of the year of the bill when paying an excise tax.

Payments
Payments in cash or check may be made at the Collector’s Office. A payment drop box is located on the side of the Town Hall for taxpayer’s convenience. You can pay current bills online by following a link on all Treasurer and Collector web pages to our online payment center. Check payments may be made by mail to Tax Collector, 41 Elm Street, Southbridge, MA 01550. For receipt, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. If no receipt is desired, forward the remittance advise with your payment. Payment is considered made when received by the Collector. IF NOT PAID, YOUR REGISTRATION AND YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE MAY NOT BE RENEWED.

Abatement Applications
You may be entitled to a refund or abatement:

(a) When the motor vehicle is sold or traded and the registration is cancelled or transferred to another vehicle.
(b) When a registrant and motor vehicle are transferred to another state or country with proof of registration in such other state or country and proof of cancellation of registration in Massachusetts.
(c) When the motor vehicle is overvalued.
(d) When there is subsequent registration of the same motor vehicle in the same year by same person.
(e) When the registrant has notified the local police authorities within 48 hours of the theft of the motor vehicle and has surrendered the certificate of registration to the Registrar not sooner than 30 days subsequent to the date of the theft and obtained a certificate setting forth the facts.

Applications for abatement or refund must be filed with the Board of Assessors in writing on the approved form on or before December 31st of the year following the year for which the excise is assessed, or if the notice of excise is first sent after December 1st of such succeeding year, on or before the 30th day after the notice of excise is sent.

Forms to apply for abatement will be mailed on request from the Assessor's office.

No excise may be reduced to less than $5.00. No abatement of less than $5.00 will be granted and no refund of less then $5.00 will be made.

Common Problems
The most common reason for a tax bill to be issued for a vehicle that is no longer on the road, is failure of the owner to return plates to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If a vehicle no longer on the road retains the plate registration, the bill may not be abated until it is sold or junked and the plate is returned to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The most common reason for a tax bill to be issued to a former place of residence is the failure to notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles of the address change or the new place of garaging.

Please note: Failure to receive the bill does not negate the bill, you will be held responsible for all interest and charges if the bill is not paid by the due date. Additionally, the Town of Southbridge does not accept partial payments of an excise bill.

Inquiries
If you have questions about the amount of your bill or about abatements, you should contact the Assessor's Office at (508) 764-5404. If you have questions about payments, you should contact the Collector's Office at (508) 764-5410.