The current method of calculating motor vehicle excise tax has been in place since 1929, and the rates used then are still in use. In Maine the excise tax is based on the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) of the vehicle when it was sold new. That is why Maine law provides that each new automobile, SUV, van or light truck registered for the first time must be accompanied by the Monroney Label (window sticker). This provides equal assessment for everyone regardless of the original purchase price. Heavy trucks, registered over 26000 pounds, are excised based on the purchase price, and the municipality is reimbursed for the remainder from the State of Maine.

The law provides that excise tax is calculated using the following method:

  • First year 24.00 mils/$1000.00
  • Second year 17.50 mils/$1000.00
  • Third year 13.50 mils/$1000.00
  • Fourth year 10.00 mils/$1000.00
  • Fifth year 6.50 mils/$1000.00
  • Sixth and subsequent years 4.00 mils/$1000.00

If you know the “sticker price” of a new car you can calculate the tax by subtracting the destination charges and multiplying the remainder by .024.

For example:

  • Sticker price: $26000.00
  • Destination charges: $550.00
  • $26000.00 – $550.00=$25450.00
  • $25450.00 x .024=$610.80
  • The excise tax due will be $610.80

A registration fee of $35.00 and an agent fee of $4.00 for new vehicles will also be charged for a total of $639.80 due to register your new vehicle. (This information is courtesy of Larry Grant, City of Brewer, Maine.)

The same method will be used to calculate the fees to re-register the same vehicle. Your old registration will show the MSRP as the base and the mil rate used. The new mil rate will drop down one year as shown above. For example:

  • MSRP: $25,450.00
  • $25,450.00 x .0175 = $445.38
  • Registration fee = $35.00
  • Agent fee = $3.00
  • Total amount due = $473.38