Collection & Payment
Local tax collectors are responsible for collecting the motor vehicle and trailer excise. Collectors may appoint deputy tax collectors or may enter into agreements with collection agencies to assist them in the collection of delinquent accounts. Money collected on all bills, excluding deputy tax collectors' fees, is put into the municipal treasury. 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.
Payment of the motor vehicle excise is due 30 days from the date the excise bill is issued (not mailed, as is popularly believed). According to Chapter 60A, section 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws, "Failure to receive notice shall not affect the validity of the excise." A person who does not receive a bill is still liable for the excise plus any interest charges accrued. Therefore, it is important to keep the Registry, local assessors, and the post office informed of a current name and address so that excise bills can be delivered promptly. All owners of motor vehicles must pay an excise tax; therefore, it is the responsibility of the owner to contact the local assessor if he/she has not received a bill.
Penalties for Non-Payment
If an excise is not paid within 30 days from the issue date, the local tax collector will send a demand, with a fee of not more than $30 dollars. In addition, interest will accrue on the overdue bill at an annual rate of 12% from the day after the due date.
If the demand is not answered within 14 days, the collector may issue a warrant to the deputy tax collector or an appointed agent, which carries another $10 fee. The deputy tax collector (or agent) issues a warrant notice at a cost of $12. If there is still no response, a final warrant, a service warrant, will be delivered or exhibited to the taxpayer at his/her residence or workplace, at a fee of $17. All interest and penalties should be clearly stated on the bill.
Also, under a new law passed in 2002 a.m.ending M.G.L. Chapter 90, section 3 1/2, improper registration of a motor vehicle or misrepresentation of the place of garaging may subject the owner to substantial fines (between $200 - $1000 for each offense on each vehicle owned for each taxable year). Criteria has been established to determine residency for taxes (such as sales/use, excise, and even registration) on motor vehicles. Evidence to contest apparent violations of the law must be submitted in an abatement application following receipt of the tax bill, or in the district court following prosecution (for up to three years of owed tax) by state or local law enforcement authorities. The new law may be enforced by the Department of Revenue, the Registry of Motor Vehicles, local board of assessors, and state and local police.