WESTBOROUGH (CBS) – The law is pretty simply in Massachusetts when it comes to registering a car.

If a vehicle is in the state for 30 days of out of a year, then it needs to be registered, insured, and inspected here.

Several viewers reached out to the I-Team, asking why so many cars in their neighborhood have out-of-state plates.

Cities and towns could be losing millions of dollars a year in excise tax because these car owners are skirting the state’s law.

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprelian told us, “Everybody should be following the same rules.”


New Jersey, New Hampshire, and South Carolina were among the license plates the Iteam found at the Flanders Hill Apartment Complex in Westborough.

After receiving a tip from a viewer, the I-Team monitored these cars, and a couple dozen more, to see if they stayed in that parking lot for more than 30 days.

Peter Stilla had parked his car at the Westborough complex for more than a month and it still had North Carolina plates on it.

“I guess that most people don’t know that it’s a 30-day sort of thing,” he said.

Responding to another tip, the I-Team found a similar situation in several Brighton neighborhoods.


All of these cars with out-of-state plates don’t pay excise tax which is a huge hit for cities and towns across the state.

Westborough Town Manager Jim Malloy said that money is very tight for his town these days.

He further explained that he has seen collections for the excise tax shrink in recent years.

Less revenue means services residents depend upon can get cut.

Malloy said excise town revenue could be used to pave a street, fill a pot hole, put in a sidewalk, or pay for recreation programs.


Having cars registered out-of-state isn’t just a revenue issue, however.

It can also create a public safety issue.

State law requires car owners to insure their cars here in Massachusetts according to Kaprelian.

Not all states do and that can make bad situation worse if there is an accident involving an uninsured vehicle.

Malloy questions if enough is being done to crackdown on these scofflaws.

“The penalties aren’t really as stiff as they could otherwise be, that might discourage people from doing that,” he said.

Under current law, local police have to cite a driver, and then turn that information over to the Registry for a hearing.

It’s a system some drivers find easy to beat.

Malloy said he would like to see some stronger enforcement action.


There is an exemption for college students, but they are required to fill out some paperwork with the local police department.

The Registry would like your help if you suspect a car is illegally registered.

You can call “1-800-I Pay Tax”.

Comments (2)
  1. Rick M says:

    I went on the Mass RMV website to report two vehicles in my neighborhood that are registered in the State of New York, and has been going on for more than 8 years. This was done over a year and a half ago, and there has been nothing done, from what I’ve seen. I even reported it to the local director of taxes, and was told that I would have to mention it to my state rep.

  2. Phil A says:

    I’m glad people are waking up to this issue. In my town, I see someone in a car with New Hampshire plates drop off their kids at the high school every morning. I find it particularly annoying that someone who obviously lives here doesn’t feel the need to pay the sales tax to Massachusetts or the excise tax to the town that educates their children. Nice lesson for the kids, too. Taxes are for the little people.

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