This guide is not designed to address all questions which may arise nor to address complex issues in detail. Nothing contained herein supersedes, alters or otherwise changes any provision of the Massachusetts General Laws, Massachusetts Department of Revenue Regulations, Department rulings or any other sources of the law.
Use tax is a 6.25% tax paid on out-of-state or out-of-country purchases that are used, stored or consumed in Massachusetts and on which no Massachusetts sales tax (or less than 6.25%) was paid.
Unlike the 6.25% sales tax, which is collected by sellers, use tax is generally paid directly to the state by the purchaser.
Individual use tax is due by April 15th of the following year after your purchase.
Motor vehicles, trailers, boats, recreational off highway vehicles, and snowmobiles
Unlike with the purchase of most items, (on which use tax is due by April 15th of the following year) use tax for these items is due by the 20th day of the following month after your purchase.
- Motor vehicles
- Recreational off-highway vehicles
If you purchase these items outside of Massachusetts and bring them into Massachusetts within 6 months for permanent use in Massachusetts, a use tax is due by the 20th day of the following month when it entered Massachusetts.
For example, if you purchased a motor vehicle in New Hampshire on January 1st and brought it into Massachusetts on June 30, a use tax would be due by July 20th.
After 6 months, the Department of Revenue may assert that a purchase is subject to use tax if it was intended for use, storage or consumption in Massachusetts.
Keep in mind:
Generally, if you paid a sales tax of 6.25% or more to another state, you would not have to pay a use tax to Massachusetts. If you need more detailed information about a specific state, please call us.
If you paid less than a 6.25% sales tax to another state you would owe the difference to Massachusetts if your vehicle was brought into Massachusetts for permanent use within 6 months.
If use tax is due on a motor vehicle or trailer purchased out-of-state or through a non-dealer sale, the tax must be paid to the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
If you are not registering your vehicle, the use tax must be paid with Form ST-7R.
Report and paying individual use tax
Individuals may report and pay their use tax on their personal income tax return — Form 1 for residents or Form 1-NR/PY for part-year residents. On either form, taxpayers may use the safe harbor method for purchases of items costing less than $1,000.
- The safe harbor method provides for an estimated use tax amount based on income ranges.
- Safe harbor reporting minimizes record keeping and taxpayers will not be assessed additional use tax if audited.
- Use tax on any purchase of $1,000 or more must be added to the safe harbor amount.
- A taxpayer filing Form ST-11 must file and pay electronically. Paper filings and payments are no longer be accepted.
See TIR 16-9, Expansion and Restatement of Electronic Filing and Payment Requirements for further information.
Schedule C filers may not report use tax on business purchases together with their individual use tax on Form 1, Form 1-NR/PY or Form ST-11. Business use tax must be reported on the applicable sales tax return or on Form ST-10: Business Use Tax Return.
If you already paid a sales tax
Generally, if you paid a sales tax of 6.25% or more to another state, you would not have to pay a use tax to Massachusetts.
If you paid less than a 6.25% sales tax to another state you would owe the difference (use tax) to Massachusetts.
No credit is allowed for a sales tax or value-added tax (VAT) paid to another country, or for a local tax paid any city, town or county.
More use tax information
Massachusetts presumes that any tangible personal property purchased outside of Massachusetts and brought into the state within 6 months is for use, storage or consumption and is subject to the use tax. This presumption may be challenged by the purchaser. After six months, the Department of Revenue may assert that a purchase is subject to use tax if it was intended for use, storage or consumption in Massachusetts.
Page updated: December 16, 2019