Sales and Use Tax General Principles

What is the Sales Tax?

The Massachusetts sales tax is calculated on 6.25% of the sales price of tangible personal property sold in the Commonwealth. The sales tax is generally paid to the seller in addition to the purchase price. Usually the buyer pays the sales tax to the seller at the time of purchase; the seller then transfers the tax to the Commonwealth. For motor vehicle and trailer sales, however, the sales tax is paid directly to the Commonwealth by the buyer at the time of titling or registering the vehicle. The Registry of Motor Vehicles collects the tax on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

 

Each time a motor vehicle’s or trailer's ownership is transferred to another person or entity in Massachusetts, whether it is a dealer sale or a private sale, the transaction is subject to the sales tax, unless specifically exempt by law. Please see the Exemptions section for more information on exemptions from sales tax.

 

Sales tax is collected at the time of the application for a Title and/or Registration and must be paid before the vehicle can be titled and/or registered.

 

What is the Use Tax?

The use tax is due when goods are purchased out-of-state or out-of-country for personal use in Massachusetts. The use tax is calculated on 6.25% of the purchase price. If sales tax was paid to another state and Massachusetts has a reciprocity agreement with that state, the use tax would be lessened depending on how much sales tax was paid to the other state and the reciprocity agreement with that state. The use tax, unlike the sales tax, generally is paid directly to the Commonwealth by the buyer. When a vehicle titled and registered outside of Massachusetts is brought to Massachusetts to be titled or registered within six months of purchase, the use tax is due at the time of application at the RMV Service Center. The Registry of Motor Vehicles collects the tax on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

 

For more information for new residents with out-of-state Titles, please see the New Residents section.

 

Use tax is collected at the time of the application for a Title and/or Registration and must be paid before the vehicle can be titled and/or registered.

 

Please direct any further questions to the Department of Revenue's Customer Service Bureau.