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Town Resources
Motor Vehicle & Trailer Excise Tax Frequently Asked Questions
What is motor vehicle excise tax?
Motor Vehicle and trailer excise is an annual tax assessed for the privilege of registering a vehicle in the State of Massachusetts. Every motor vehicle and trailer registered in Massachusetts is subject to an excise tax unless expressly exempted. The Registry of Motor Vehicles prepares data for excise bills according to the information on the owner’s motor vehicle registration and sends it to the city or town that the vehicle is principally garaged.   

Who must pay excise tax?
Excise is assessed to anyone with Massachusetts' license plates.

What is the rate and how is the bill calculated?
Excise is calculated at the rate of $25.00 per thousand dollars of valuation. The excise valuation is a percentage of the manufacturers suggested retail price "MSRP" of the vehicle when new. It is not based on the sales price or on the "blue book" value. The Registry of Motor Vehicles determines the value stated on the bill using the following table:
  • In the year preceding the year of manufacture - 50% of original MSRP
  • In the year of manufacture - 90% of original MSRP
  • In the second year - 60% of original MSRP
  • In the third year - 40% of original MSRP
  • In the fourth year - 25% of original MSRP
  • In the fifth and all succeeding years - 10% of original MSRP

What if I have sold my car or moved out of Shirley?
Click here for instructions and application for abatement of motor vehicle excise tax. Email questions or your completed abatement application with supporting documentation to or mail to Board of Assessors, 7 Keady Way, Shirley MA 01464.

When is payment due?
Payment is due within 30 days from the date of issue. A person who does not receive a bill is still liable for the excise tax. Therefore, it is important to keep the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the Post Office informed of current name and address so that the excise tax bill can be delivered promptly.

Where should I mail my tax payment?
Please mail your payment and remittance slip to:

Town of Shirley Collector's Office
7 Keady Way
Shirley, MA 01464

Who do I make my check payable to?
Make checks payable to the Town of Shirley. If you would like a receipt, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and the complete bill. We will stamp the taxpayers portion of the bill and return it to you. 

What happens if my payment is late?
All bills will clearly state the interest and penalty charges.
  • If an excise is not paid within 30 days from the date of issue a demand bill is sent. The charge for a demand bill is $15.00.
  • Interest accrues on the overdue bill at a rate of 12% from the day after the due date until payment is received.
  • If the demand bill is not paid within 14 days, the collector will issue a warrant to the deputy tax collector. The deputy tax collector sends the warrant notice to the taxpayer with additional fees of $22.00 plus interest.
  • If payment is still not received, the deputy will deliver a service warrant with additional fees of $17.00 plus interest.
  • If the bill still remains unpaid, the registration and license of the assessed owner are marked at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and another $20.00 fee is added to the bill.

How does non-payment of excise affect my license and registration?
If the service warrant demanding final payment is not paid, the deputy collector will then notify the Registry of Motor Vehicles of such non-payment. The Registry will then mark the individual’s registration preventing the renewal of the motor vehicle registration and the owner’s driver’s license. The taxpayer will then be assessed a $20.00 mark fee in addition to all other penalties and interest.

To remove the mark the excise must be paid by with cash, certified check or money order. Once payment is made, the Collector will notify the Registry or Motor Vehicles and the taxpayer will be able to renew his/her license or registration.

To request your balance on a bill that has gone to warrant or is marked at the Registry, you may either call the Collector at 978-425-2600, ext. 210 or, if the Collector Office is closed, contact Kelley and Ryan Associates, the Deputy Tax Collector at 508-473-9241or go to their website at to pay on line. You will need bill numbers and registration information to use this option. Please, only contact the Deputy Tax Collector if you cannot reach the Collectors Office. 

How do I return or cancel my registration/plates?
In most cases, you can cancel your registration online here.  This will save you time and a trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

You can also check the status of your registration online here.

More Information from the Secretary of State's Office

Town of Shirley     7 Keady Way     Shirley, MA 01464     PH: 978-425-2600