Yes. Owners of motor vehicles are assessed a motor vehicle excise or personal property tax each year. At one time, owners of motor vehicles were assessed a personal property tax by their city or town. Most vehicles are registered, however, so in 1928, G.L. c. 60A was enacted and imposed a local excise in lieu of a personal property tax. An excise is a tax upon an event or privilege. In this case, the motor vehicle excise is imposed for the privilege of registration. It is not assessed for the use of the roads and monies collected from the excise are general fund revenues available to support municipal operations.
The motor vehicle excise is assessed on a calendar year basis. Registration of a vehicle during an excise calendar year automatically triggers assessment of an excise for that year. Therefore, an owner whose vehicle is registered on the January 1 of the calendar year, or at any time during that year, is subject to an excise. If the vehicle is unregistered on January 1, the owner is subject to personal property tax unless the vehicle is registered during the year. G.L. c. 59, sect. 5(35).