Curious About the Use of Excise Tax

By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

I’m curious about excise tax. Why does Massachusetts have this? This “extra” tax is supposed to go to our roads here in the Commonwealth, but does it really?  Roads in our cities and towns are a disgrace and we’re paying an extra excise tax on top of what we’re already paying in outrageous property taxes. If we are going to continue to allow cities and towns the ability to charge excise why can’t it be mandated that this money be allocated for roadway improvements only? – Jim

Ah…the excise tax.  The yearly bill you pay on the value of your car.  Why does Mass. have it?  To raise money of course.

But Jim has it wrong.  The excise tax isn’t “supposed” to go for road repairs.  It goes into the general fund of each city and town that collects the tax.  I asked the state’s Dept. of Revenue about this and here’s what they say: 

“Motor Vehicle Excise tax revenue goes to a community’s general fund for the support of the general operating budget.  Use of this revenue is unrestricted.”

So it’s not earmarked.  Of course a community could decide to spend it on road repairs…there would be a good connection there…you know…cars…roads.  But I suppose that would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul and would create a hole in another part of municipal budgets.

One thing about the excise tax-  If there’s anything to like about a tax…I kind of like this one because I know that when I grit my teeth and write that check the money goes to my town rather than to the state.  So at least I’m supporting my own community. 

By the way, the cost is $25 per each $1000 valuation.  And I sure agree with Jim about the conditions of many of our roads…nasty.

What’s your opinion?  Should the excise tax be used just for roadwork?

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  • emom

    REALLY NOW, and all these years we as tax payers where lead to believe that the excise tax was t be used to repairs roads, wow, so its a tax to pay SOMEONE, SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE, hhmmm intersting since so many towns dont repair the roads, have stopped all park and recreation upkeeps, schools have been loosing a lot of money, they have turned of street lights to save money, signs get damaged by plows, cars, hoodliums, or what ever. Plowing has to be done by homeoowners to clear sidewalks and hydrants, what next tree prunning around wires cause the tree department cant do it , oh wait sorry they already deligated that to the utlity companies., well in the last few decades all I can say is get use to it, and dont expect your tax dollars to GO TOWARD what it was ment to.. Yet they keep raising the amounts and we have little choice but pay it. how wonderfull life is. NOT

  • blackbear1

    You say you feel somewhat better because the excise tax supports the local community, not the state. Really, have you been involved in local town politics lately? Do you think just because it is local that it is any better? Not a chance! A town’r general fund is a deep dark hole just like the state!! It is what it is: an extra tax.

  • response

    blackbear1, I also got a little chuckle out that statement as well. The towns are hurting for funds becuase of the lack of local aid from the STATE.
    I do feel worse for the locals, especially smaller towns. The medical, retirement, teachers, unions…’s just too much for them to keep up.
    The problem with repairing the roads, is the cost. I thought I had read at one point it was 25K per mile. That’s extreme.
    Next time you pay your excise tax, put a note in the memo you want your money to go to roads, the school system, the parks and rec departments.
    see what sort of response you get.

  • Cynic

    Yeh…$25.00 per $1000.00…. But guess who gets to do the VALUATION…..!!!!The same people that VALUE the car you paid $2500.00 for as $8000.00 and rap you for the difference.

  • DStein

    @response, you WISH the cost to maintain Massachusetts roads was only $25,000 per mile per year……but it’s $800,000!! Somehow New Hampshire manages to get the job done for about 1/9th of what we pay, or $88,000 per mile.

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