My Excise Taxes are Just Five Dollars

I've always had a love affair with a car.

And, I'm afraid, nothing has changed. I get very attached to my cars. In fact, I can tell you every car I ever owned.

A couple Packards (the best was a 1950 known affectionately in high school as The Big P), a flashy red and white Lincoln (the gas gauge didn't work and I ran out of gas more than once), the Sunbeam Rapier (my brother Gene ran it into a bridge when I was teaching him how to drive it), a flashy black TR-3 (your hand could touch the ground when you sat in it), the white TR-4 (I gave it up when I was too pregnant to fit behind the wheel).

You get the idea. Plus, Dad sold cars and tended to bring home the interesting used ones. The pregnancy occurred long after he stopped buying my cars, by the way. In case you wondered.

I still have my favorite. It's been in storage all winter, but it feels like spring and I think I'll get it out, charge the battery, and hit the open road.

I've had it for almost 25 years. It was brand new, right off the showroom floor. Tahiti Blue, 1976 TR-6. The last "real" Triumph to roll off an assembly line.

With all the electrical problems every Triumph seems to have. No turning on the heat and windshield wipers at the same time. In fact, it's best not to turn the heat on at all. Even honking the horn blows the fuses sometimes.

Soft top and a hard top that I seldom snap on. Two bucket seats. Mostly original parts. Four hearty tires, although they're not the rare and pricey red lines that came on it. About to turn 25 and less than 50,000 miles on the odometer!

I add my own lead to the gasoline.

And its excise taxes are only $5 a year! "Aha" you said, "I knew she'd get around to State business sooner or later, this Representative of mine.")

The dreaded excise tax. Massachusetts drivers shell out about $469-million annually to pay these taxes.

Surprise...the state doesn't get to spend those dollars. They stay right in the cities and towns where they are collected.

Added up statewide, motor vehicle excise (MVE) taxes cover almost four percent of local budgets. (High of 9.5 percent in Cheshire to a low 1.09 percent in Gosnold, and I don,t know where either is, either.)

Westfield, by the way, gets about $2.6-million a year from you and your cars. And, if you're average, your car is eight years old and you pay $76 a year. We,re right in the middle of all the cities and towns in the state, ranked at 193 in average billing per car.

Montgomery, where the average car is nine years old, ranks 207 and collects $68,000 a year.

You'll pay the most, or have the highest average MVE taxes, if you live in Weston ($139.02) and the least in Wendell ($38.80).

Chelsea comes in second highest, although it has one of the lowest median household incomes in the commonwealth. It's close to Logan Airport, so has a lot of rental agencies with new cars.

The four communities in Massachusetts with the oldest cars are on Martha's Vineyard, where summer residents often leave old cars (are they still called "rats"?) to avoid the hassle of ferrying over their cars every summer. Number five is Mount Washington in the Berkshires, at almost 211 (and 35 percent of them are trucks).

So-called "commuter cities"--Sharon, Needham, Westboro, Canton and Acton, along Routes 495 and 128, have the newest cars (all about six years).

How do I know? Because the state's Division of Local Services, in the Department of Revenue, keeps track of stuff like this. And they tell me.

Now, if it doesn't rain today ... and if I pass inspection ... I'm out of here!

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