How to interpret excise tax law Massachusetts

Notice

Board of Assessors
Boat Policy


Enacted November 14, 2006

The Harbor Master shall include language on the Mooring and Slip application that informs the recreational boat owners and commercial fishing vessel operators by the act of requesting said mooring or slip, they agree to pay an excise tax bill for said vessel to the Town of Harwich. No abatements will be granted by Harwich due to excise payments being made to other towns for said vessel.

Moorings and slips are intended to be available to boat owners whose vessel is habitually moored (domiciled) in Harwich waters.

Harwich Board of Assessors

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How does Harwich apply the Boat Excise Tax Law?

HARWICH, MA - (11/14/06) The Board of Assessors interpretation of the Boating Excise Tax Law Chapter 60B changed in 2006 as follows. All recreational vessels in port, or having a mooring permit or dockage permit are subject to the application of the excise tax. Alternatively, the excise tax may be applied to a visiting boat in the Port on July 1st. Recreational and Charter boats must pay 100% of the tax based on the tax table which is applied based upon age of the vessel in years and the length of the vessel. Bonified commercial fishermen are given a reduced rate (see below). It is independent of the actual value of the vessel.

Tax assessors no longer agree that if a vessel excise tax was paid to another town it is likely that an abatement will be granted by the local town assessor. If said excise remains unpaid after the due date, the harbormaster of a city or town shall refuse to allow the vessel to moor, dock, or otherwise be situated within the waterways of said city or town.

Since this tax matter is far beyond the jurisdiction of the Harbormasterís Office, you must contact the Tax Collectorís Office (508-430-7501) at your earliest convenience to determine the amount owed for the unpaid balance and make arrangements for payment.

The question all recreational boaters, boat dealers, fishermen and commercial operators need to ask themselves is "Did I pay these bills?". You should check the delinquent boat excise list which is a public document and being provide on-line and updated weekly through the efforts of the Tax Collectors Office and the Harbormaster.

Commercial Fishing Vessels will normally be charged an excise tax of 50% of the value given in the table. However, alternatives for zero tax are granted to commercial fishing vessels if they comply with three points: they are incorporated and pay a corporation tax; they are documented with the USCG; it is used exclusively for commercial fishing.

Often the Harbormaster will be asked to verify the use of the vessel where it comes to interpretation. The Harbormaster can refuse to give an opinion in this matter if he is uncertain about the history of the usage of the vessel.

Remember you pay the boat excise tax to the Tax Collector. You file for an abatement (request to reduce the tax)at the Assessors Office.

For the purpose of computing the excise under this chapter the value of each such vessel, and its equipment, shall be deemed to be the fair cash value as determined by the assessors of each city and town, but not in excess of the following values:

LENGTH OF VESSEL (Overall      VALUATIONS OF VESSELS (based on age of vessel)  
  center line Length                                                           
  excluding bowsprits,                                                         
boomkins and similar           Under 4 Years   4 thru 6 Years   7 or More Years
  extensions)                     of age           of age           of age     
Under 16'                         $ 1,000           $  700           $  400    
16' but less than 17.5'             1,500            1,000              800    
17.5' but less than 20'             3,000            2,000            1,500    
20' but less than 22.5'             5,000            3,300            2,500    
22.5' but less than 25'             7,500            5,000            3,800    
25' but less than 27.5'            10,500            7,000            5,300    
27.5' but less than 30'            14,000            9,300            7,000    
30' but less than 35'              18,500           12,300            9,300    
35' but less than 40'              24,000           16,000           12,000    
40' but less than 50'              31,500           21,000           15,800    
50' but less than 60'              41,000           27,300           20,500    
60' or over                        50,000           33,000           24,800    

General Laws Regarding Excise Taxes on Motor boats and Other Vessels:

Chapter 60B Section 1
Chapter 60B Section 2
Chapter 60B Section 3
Chapter 60B Section 4
Chapter 60B Section 5
Chapter 60B Section 6

This page provided by Harwich Harbormasters Office


TITLE IX. TAXATION

CHAPTER 60B. EXCISE ON BOATS, SHIPS AND VESSELS IN LIEU OF LOCAL PROPERTY TAX

Chapter 60B: Section 1. Definitions

Section 1. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

“Vessel”, every watercraft, including documented boats and ships, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, and includes all equipment, including mode of power, and furnishings that are normally required aboard the vessel during accomplishment of the functions for which the vessel is being utilized.

“Habitually moored or docked”, the place where the owner has usual mooring or dockage for the summer season.

“Principally situated”, for a registered ship or vessel where it is registered, and for a non registered ship or vessel, whether documented or not, the city or town in Massachusetts where it is principally located during the calendar year.


Chapter 60B: Section 2. Excise taxes

Section 2. (a) Except as hereinafter provided there shall be assessed and levied by each city and town in each fiscal year on every vessel, and its equipment, for the privilege of using the waterways of the commonwealth, an excise measured by the value thereof, as hereinafter defined and determined, at the rate of ten dollars per thousand of valuation.

(b) Any person who owns such a vessel on July first shall annually, on or before August first, make a return on oath to the assessors of the city or town where such vessel is habitually moored or docked, or in the case of a vessel which has no mooring or docking space, where said vessel is principally situated, setting forth the vessel’s registration or documentation number, if any; an adequate description, as well as the owner’s estimate of the fair cash value of said vessel and any engine or motor used to propel said vessel, as of the next preceding July first; and the place of habitual mooring or docking or other principal location of said vessel.

(c) For the purpose of computing the excise under this chapter the value of each such vessel, and its equipment, shall be deemed to be the fair cash value as determined by the assessors of each city and town, but not in excess of the following values:

Boat excise tax table

(d) The payment of such excise shall exempt such owner from any other tax applicable to said vessels and their equipment under chapter fifty-nine.

(e) If an owner fails to make such a return within the time herein provided, the assessors may abate the tax otherwise imposed by this chapter if such owner provides the assessors with a reasonable excuse for failure to file such return and if the return is filed on or before October thirty-first of the year in which the tax is assessed; but no abatement hereunder shall reduce the tax otherwise imposed to an amount less than the sum of the excise imposed by this section plus fifty per cent thereof.

(f) Said excise shall be assessed in the city or town where the vessel is habitually moored or docked, or in the case of a ship or vessel which has no mooring or docking space, where the ship or vessel is principally situated; provided, however, that if more than one municipality owns property in a harbor, the municipality which maintains such harbor in which the vessel is habitually moored, docked or situated shall assess and collect said excise; and provided, further, that where more than one municipality maintains portions of the harbor, the municipality which maintains that portion of the harbor in which the vessel is habitually moored, docked or situated shall assess and collect said excise.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the board of assessors from granting an abatement in any case in which the excise aforesaid is, in the opinion of the board, excessive.

(h) If during any fiscal year ownership of a boat subject to an excise under this chapter is transferred by sale or otherwise, or if during any fiscal year the owner of a boat subject to such an excise removes to another state and registers a boat in such other state and surrenders or does not renew his registration in this state, the excise under this chapter shall be reduced, upon application, by an abatement equal to the proportion of an excise under this chapter on such boat for the full fiscal year which the number of months in said year remaining after the month in which such transfer by sale or otherwise or such surrender or expiration of registration occurs bears to twelve.

(i) All sums received from the excise imposed under this chapter shall be paid into the treasury of the city or town and fifty per cent of said excise shall be credited to the municipal waterways improvement and maintenance fund established under the provisions of section five G of chapter forty.


Chapter 60B: Section 3. Exemptions

Section 3. The excise imposed by this chapter shall not apply to vessels described in section eight of chapter fifty-nine and in section sixty-seven of chapter sixty-three; to vessels owned by the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof; to law enforcement vessels; to vessels under construction; to ferries; to boats, fishing gear and nets owned and actually used by the owner in the prosecution of his business if engaged exclusively in commercial fishing, with a total value of ten thousand dollars or less; nor to other vessels with a value of one thousand dollars or less. Said exemptions shall not subject said vessels and their equipment to any other tax under section four of chapter fifty-nine.


Chapter 60B: Section 4. Collector of taxes; penalties

Section 4. The board of assessors, upon assessing the excise imposed by this chapter, shall commit the same to the collector of taxes with their warrant for the collection thereof. The collector of taxes shall seasonably notify the owner of the excise assessed and the due date, but failure to receive notice shall not affect the validity of the excise. Said excise shall be due and payable at the expiration of sixty days from the date upon which the notice was issued by the collector pursuant to this chapter.

Failure to pay said excise by the due date shall result in a penalty being imposed which shall be equal to twenty dollars or twenty per cent of the amount of the excise due, whichever is greater. The penalty shall be in addition to the amount of excise due and any interest thereon imposed by law. If said excise remains unpaid after the due date, the harbormaster of a city or town shall refuse to allow the vessel to moor, dock, or otherwise be situated within the waterways of said city or town. All sums received from said penalty shall be credited to the Municipal Waterways Improvement and Maintenance Fund, established under the provisions of clause (72) of section five of chapter forty.


Chapter 60B: Section 5. Collection provisions

Section 5. The provisions of law relative to the collection, payment, abatement, verification and administration of the motor vehicle excise imposed under chapter sixty A shall so far as pertinent apply to the excise imposed under this chapter.


Chapter 60B: Section 6. Ship and vessel information

Section 6. The commissioner of corporations and taxation shall annually transmit to the director of marine and recreational vehicles a list of all ships or vessels documented as of July first under the laws of the United States whose owners reside in Massachusetts. The boat list shall include for each boat the name and residence of the registered owner, the documentation number, type, length, and model year of the boat and type and horsepower of the engine or motor used to propel said boat and the city or town in which it is habitually moored or docked.