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Vehicle Sales Tax Exemption Benefits Certain Disabled Individuals

Certain individuals may qualify for a sales tax exemption on the purchase of a motor vehicle, based on disability. Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 64H6(u), the purchase of a motor vehicle by, or for the use of, an individual who has suffered loss, or permanent loss of use of, both arms and both legs, or alternatively, one arm and one leg, or who is a disabled veteran (as determined by the Medical Advisory Board for the Registry of Motor Vehicles), will be exempt from paying sales tax on that vehicle.

In addition to meeting the Medical Advisory Board's specifications for a "disabled" veteran, the veteran must register the vehicle in his or her own name, and provide a letter from the Veterans Administration indicating that the disability is at least 60 percent service-related. A non-veteran need only file form MVU-33 (which does require a doctor's signature), and must own and register the vehicle unless he or she meets the criteria discussed below in regard to vehicle ownership. Form MVU-33, "An Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Exemption from Sales or Use Tax for a Motor Vehicle Transferred to a Disabled Person", is available from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

At first glance the statute appears to allow an exemption only if the disabled person is the owner, which would prohibit parents or guardians of disabled individuals from taking advantage of this exemption. The Department of Revenue clarifies this ambiguity in Directive 03-11, which provides that such a purchase by a parent or legal guardian of a minor child will be exempt so long as the parents are the registered owners of the vehicle, and contingent upon the submission of Form MVU-33 in the name of the qualifying minor.

In the case of an adult disabled individual, the guardian or conservator may claim the exemption, providing that the guardian or conservator's name appears on Form RMV-1 as the vehicle owner, and providing that the vehicle is registered to the qualifying disabled adult. To qualify, the disabled adult must be both unable to enter into a legal contract, and described in G.L. 64H6(u).

Form MVU-33 is available at: www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dor/Forms/MVU/PDFs/mvu_33.pdf