Ever Have An Excise Tax Credit?


I recently traded in a 2007 car for a 2005 car.  At my town office, the person saw the March renewal date on the 07 model’s registration papers and said “Good, this means you’ll get a credit.” 

Sounded fine to me!

Then we went through the forms: yes I paid the sales tax, no there’s not a loan involved, got the mileage for the car I traded in, confirmed the mileage on the car I just bought…  She typed away at half a dozen forms, then came back to the window and said I owed just fifteen dollars.

“What?” I asked, “I thought there was a credit.”

“Oh yes, there is.”

“How much is the credit?”

“Well, the excise tax you already paid was $441.00 and the excise tax on the car you’re registering today is $263.50.”

“So I’ve got a credit of over $175.00, right?”


“So how can I owe $15.00 now?”

“Oh,” she answered, “Augusta keeps that.  They don’t return the extra for credit.  They never do that.”

“So we can’t credit the $15 I owe now against the $175.00 I overpaid?”

“Oh no,” she cheerfully replied,  “That’s different.”

By this time, the line was growing behind me, I owed the town a total of $15.00 for a title transfer, agent fee and something else called “fees.”   It was clear this was going nowhere, so I wrote out the check for $15.00 and muttered “Welcome to Maine.”


I already knew that the Vehicle Excise Tax in Maine is near the top, and that it’s charged on the full sticker price, no matter what you actually paid for the car, but I didn’t realize until now that if you ever overpay the Vehicle Excise Tax… your “credit” is on paper – but not the kind you can fold up and put back in your wallet.