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Individual Use Tax

Use tax is often due on out-of-state or out-of-country purchases which you bring or have delivered into Massachusetts.

Overview

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 are due by the 20th day of the following month after your purchase.

  • Motor vehicles
  • Trailers
  • Boats
  • Recreational off highway vehicles 
  • Snowmobiles

If you purchase these items outside of Massachusetts and bring them into Massachusetts within 6 months for permanent use, 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 always 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. See TIR 03-1 for more information.

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

Use tax on boats, snowmobiles or off-highway recreational vehicles must be reported and paid online with the ST-6 through MassTaxConnect or the paper Form ST-6

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.
  • Taxpayers may also report and pay use tax with Form ST-11, Individual Use Tax Return.
    • Effective January 1, 2017, a taxpayer filing Form ST-11 must file and pay electronically. Paper filings and payments will 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.

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. See TIR 03-1 for more information.

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 always intended for use, storage or consumption in Massachusetts.

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