Motor Vehicle Excise
Excise tax on motor vehicles principally garaged in Sterling is levied by the Town of Sterling and revenues become part of the community treasury.
Excise Tax Computation
Motor vehicle excise tax is assessed at a rate of $25.00 per thousand dollars of taxable value. The value of a motor vehicle is determined by the Commissioner of Revenue, based on the manufacturer’s list price (MSRP). Condition and market value are not considered in determining value. Percentages are determined as follows:
- In the year prior to model year 50%
- In the year of manufacture (model year) 90%
- Second year 60%
- Third year 40%
- Fourth year 25%
- Fifth year, each year thereafter 10%
Application for Abatement
When filing for an abatement, registered vehicle owners should pay the bill in full to avoid interest and charges for late payment. If an abatement is subsequently granted, a refund will be made to the taxpayer. Remember that filing for an abatement does not stay the collection of tax. To preserve your right to an abatement and to appeal, you must file on time.
You are not entitled to an abatement if you (1) cancel your registration and retain ownership of the vehicle, or (2) move to another Massachusetts city or town during the same calendar year. By law, you must notify the MA Registry of Motor Vehicle within 30 days of any change of residence, mailing or garaging address.
Applications for abatement must be received by the Sterling Board of Assessors within three years after the excise was due, or one year after the excise was paid, whichever is later. No excise may be reduced to less than $5, and no abatement or refund of less than $5 will be made.
When applying for an abatement, provide the Sterling Board of Assessors with the following documentation:
- Vehicle is sold or traded: Bill of sale and plate return receipt from the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) or new registration form if plate transferred to another vehicle.
- Vehicle is stolen or total loss: Police report or insurance settlement letter and plate return receipt or C-19 Form (Affidavit of Lost or Stolen Plate from RMV).
- Vehicle is junked or donated: Receipt from junk yard or charity and plate return receipt or C-19 Form or new registration if plate transferred.
- Vehicle is returned (Lemon Law): Letter from dealer certifying return and plate return receipt or new registration if plate is transferred.
- Moved from Sterling: If you moved to another community in Mass. after Jan. 1 of the calendar year, you still owe excise tax to Sterling. If you moved before Jan. 1, provide Sterling Assessors with proof of garaging address such as a utility bill, voter registration, or lease. If you moved out of state and registered your vehicle there, you must notify the RMV of any address change within 30 days of moving, obtain a plate return receipt and submit a copy of the new state registration with your application for abatement.
- Garaged in Another Town than Sterling: If your vehicle is garaged in another town, it is the responsibility of the registered owner (or insurance company of commercial plate’s owner) to promptly notify the RMV of any address changes.
- Exemptions: Chapter 60A of the Massachusetts General laws provides excise tax exemptions for vehicles owned by certain disabled individuals and veterans, prisoners of war, certain charitable organizations and others.
- Do not ignore your excise bill. Abatement applications are available at the Sterling Assessors’ Office, Town Hall, 1 Park Street, Sterling, MA. The excise tax bill is always due 30 days from the issue date and must be paid and/or abated. Any bill unpaid and outstanding will accrue interest charges and fees.