May 18, 1984
You request a ruling as to the application of the sales tax to the casual sales of snowmobiles by persons who are not regularly engaged in the business of making retail sales.
Chapter 64H, Section 6(c) of the Massachusetts General Laws exempts from the sales tax:
"[c]asual and isolated sales by a vendor who is not regularly engaged in the business of making sales at retail; provided, however, that nothing contained in this paragraph shall be construed to exempt any such sale of a motor vehicle or trailer as defined in section one of chapter ninety, or any such sale of a boat or airplane, from the tax imposed under chapter sixty-four I."
Chapter 64I, Section 2 imposes a five percent tax on the use in Massachusetts of tangible personal property purchased for use in Massachusetts.
Chapter 90, Section 1 defines a motor vehicle as "all vehicles constructed and designed for propulsion by power other than muscular power including such vehicles when pulled or towed by another motor vehicle…." Although snowmobiles are not registered under the provisions of Chapter 90, but are registered instead under Chapter 90B ("Motorboats and Other Vessels"), snowmobiles are vehicles constructed and designed for propulsion by power other than muscular power and do not fall within any of the exceptions to the definition.
Section 3(c) and 26 of Chapter 64H use a different definition of a motor vehicle, but the definition is limited in application to those two sections. Sections 3(c) and 26 define a motor vehicle as any self-propelled vehicle designed for use and used primarily upon the highway. Snowmobiles do not fall within this definition. But Section 3(c) limits the definition contained therein with the words "[f]or the purpose of this paragraph," and Section 26 limits the definition with the words "[f]or the purpose of this section." Section 3(c) describes the method of collection of the sales tax on motor vehicles. Section 26 excludes the value of trade-ins from the measure of tax imposed on motor vehicles. Because a snowmobile does not meet the definition of a motor vehicle in Section 26, the full sales price of a snowmobile is subject to the sales tax, with no allowance given for the value of a trade-in.
Neither Section 3(c) nor Section 26 of Chapter 64H deal with casual sales of motor vehicles by persons who are not regularly engaged in the business of making retail sales of motor vehicles. Therefore, the definition of a motor vehicle contained in Sections 3(c) and 26 does not affect the definition of a motor vehicle in Chapter 64H, Section 6(c).
Based on the foregoing, it is ruled that snowmobiles are motor vehicles within the definition of Chapter 64H, Section 6(c). The casual sales of snowmobiles by persons not regularly engaged in the business of making retail sales of snowmobiles are subject to the use tax.
Very truly yours
/s/Ira A. Jackson
Commissioner of Revenue