Thursday, March 06, 2008

Excise tax makes me cranky.

We Massachusetts residents pay a tax every year on each of our cars. Somehow the value of our car is decided, and our town annually sends a bill for the appropriate (ha!) amount of tax thereon. Tax goes down as value goes down. I just wrote a $35 check for the tax on a mid 90s Corolla with almost 300,000 miles on it (which by the way has been a great car. There's arguably nothing at all wrong with it if you don't mind road noise, don't care for air conditioning, don't rely on your gas gauge overmuch, aren't unsettled by an increasingly loud and undiagnosed rumbling noise coming from the rear axle-ish, and-- this just in-- if you carry some extra oil in the trunk just in case. Toyota, hello? I'm ready for my close-up!)

So... we paid tax on the income used to buy the car. We paid sales tax on the price of the car when we bought it. This extra tax is for what, then -- for owning the car? How is that even legal? I own other stuff... but my town doesn't send me, say, mattress excise tax, or kayak excise tax, or air compressor excise tax.

I could see a municipal tax on street parking. This isn't that. I could even see a road use tax -- though collected by whom, I don't know -- based on the weight of your vehicle and the miles you drive. But this excise tax on cars is so completely without defensible rationale, such a baldfaced "because we can -- just try to stop us!" that it offends me more than the many other taxes I pay without whining about 'em.

It's bullshit, is what it is.


  1. We pay it, too - the money goes towards roads, I think. We call it a property tax, though.

  2. We used to pay ours based on weight, but now it has to do with value (so it goes down every year as the car gets older until it reaches "bottom" and just stays the same every year). We pay ours once a year on the birthday of the person to whom the car is registered. You pay the registration fee (which is like 95% the tax, 5% admin costs) and get your tags for your plate. But we do get to deduct it on our federal taxes (if one itemizes), so that makes it a little better. Ours was $101 on one car and $85 on the 1994 piece-of-sh!t. Sucks.

  3. Well, it takes money to run a government...or at least that's the excuse I make when I pay for car tabs. It seems like we're being nickeled and dimed every which way we turn these days.

  4. I was just complaining about this today to my husband, as we got both of our excise tax bills on both cars this week. Unfortunately one car is brand new, but the other car's bill was $46. The whole thing makes me angry.

    Thanks for commenting on my post at NE Mamas today, btw!