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Old 08-01-2009, 16:43   #1
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Florida 90 Day Rule Enforcement

Does anyone have any direct info on the extent of the enforcement of this rule? Yesterday we had a mechanical setback that will probably delay our departure until about 14 days after the 90 days has expired, and we were very concerned about the extent of the enforcement of this rule or areas where it is more rigorously enforced.
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Old 08-01-2009, 18:10   #2
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They generally force you to prove you were gone in 90 days. With taxes owed you owe them unless you can prove you don't. being under repair is allowed so you need receipts to demonstrate when you were and were not there in FL.

Rigorous would be an understatement. FL is the most aggressive of any state I know of. It's part of not having income tax. Buy some fuel the moment you cross the state line and save all receipts while under repairs and make sure they have dates. I have several neighbors that bought FL boats did work and brought them back to VA. They both had to prove they left in time. They went after them even after they left. You don't actually have to be there for the state come after you where ever they find you. They can collect the money after you leave the state so don't think you can out run them.

Document everything while in the state. They are not unfair if you can show some proof. Just understand that with taxes you owe it until you prove you don't. It's the reason Al Capone went to jail.
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Old 08-01-2009, 18:53   #3
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There is another way to "dodge" the FL taxes. You can keep your boat in FL for as long as you need if you are doing modifications or repairs. But, once you have completed repairs you have only 10 days to get outta Dodge. We are in that situation. We received a letter from the state at about 90 days and I responded by saying that we were still having work done on our boat and would inform them as soon as we were finished. Our plan is to complete the work and then quickly leave for the Bahamas and send them a marina receipt as soon as we possibly can from the Bahamas. We are USCG Documented even though she is on the hard. Eventually, we will register in Puerto Rico.

Honestly, I'm not trying to avoid taxes. I'm just trying to avoid paying taxes twice. I know that I'll get hit in PR so I don't want to have to pay in FL as well.

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Old 08-01-2009, 20:00   #4
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Honestly, I'm not trying to avoid taxes. I'm just trying to avoid paying taxes twice. I know that I'll get hit in PR so I don't want to have to pay in FL as well.
Nothing worng with picking who you get married to.
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Old 08-01-2009, 21:35   #5
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After taking delivery in Florida we moved our vessel to Puerto Rico just when the taxman cometh and kept it there a year. We never heard a word about paying taxes in PR although I have heard that they can.
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Old 08-01-2009, 23:23   #6
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Just for the "pot"...in Maryland it is 90 days per calendar year....it does not have to be consecutive days
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:43   #7
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We bought our boat in Wisconsin. I made copies of the cancelled check that actually paid our taxes should we ever be challenged.
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:11   #8
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Does anyone know of a database that outlines the cost of keeping a boat in each state? Once the boat is documented, what is keeping you from buying such in a tax haven state (or country) and just making sure you don't overstay your visit in areas like Florida? Surely someone has thought along these lines before.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:08   #9
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Does anyone know of a database that outlines the cost of keeping a boat in each state?
Not really. The costs can vary by county as well as state. Laws change and it's not easy to assemble all of them. Don't rely on any information without checking the state first. Local brokers genrally know the rules quite well. You could theoretically never stay long enough to actually trigger the state / local tax issue. It's all theoretical though. You can't do it practically for an indefinite amount of time. You also risk penalties if you screw up. It's called tax evasion. At some point the cost of constantly moving your boat adds up. All states that have taxes have a calendar based deadline when you must have settled the issue. States like VA make it interesting. If you pay the tax as soon as buy the boat they cap the Use tax to a max of $2000, but if you don't they change it to 5.5% of purchase price with no cap at all plus penalties.

It is not about where you register or where you live or claim you live. It is 100% about where the boat actually is and how long it's been there over a period of time.

With US Documented boats the issue of your title would be done and not require a state. If you state register a boat they know you have not paid any tax. Here in VA they also notify the county / city so they can come after you for personal property tax. Just right off the bat you can't register the title in a state that you could owe tax. Many states and counties download the US documented list to find new boat owners. The address you list may trigger them to ask you questions even if you don't keep the boat at your address. You can't use a fake address for US Documentation since they mail out a renewal form each year (no fee required). It could be your mail drop service as many offshore cruisers use a FL mail service. You can list any port you like and that does not matter. The port just has to be a "place" in the US. You still are left with people looking for you.

You would need to move around most of the year. Some states count based on total days in the year. You also need to rely on poor enforcement and that can be a misleading idea since just because they have a lax reputation does not mean it can't change.

Delaware is a great example of a free state. The ugly part is keeping a boat in Delaware pretty much sucks. You are hours from the Chesapeake and the Delaware River might just be the worst place I've ever sailed. People do it though and save all the taxes. You just can't hang out in Maryland too long or they come after you. FL and MD actually pay retired guys to cruise around and look for boats that might owe taxes. They check marinas and generally take a very aggressive approach. With economic times tough for stets I expect the desire to collect taxes owed will increase.

It mostly comes down to what you really want to do and how you want to boat. Tax collectors know more tricks than you might imagine. Simple steps to evade taxes are not reliable and carry severe penalties for getting caught. Any state can chase after you to other states too. Life is short and boating is supposed to be fun. If you like to run and hide from tax collectors I suppose it's a hobby. If you pay one place you can at least stay put as long as you want.
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Old 09-01-2009, 10:02   #10
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Waterworldly,
We had a new boat delivered to Florida and spent almost 90 days getting warranty issues resolved. As we approached the 90 days and the work wasn't completed, we contacted the Florida Revenue Service, Marine Division. We were told that if it was safe to sail, we had to leave. So we did. We sent them a fuel receipt as soon as we were out of Florida and are now saving receipts to prove that we have spent six months outside Florida in other states or protectorates.
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Old 09-01-2009, 19:14   #11
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Now I'm Confused...

If I pay sales tax to the state of FL on a USCG documented boat I purchase and register in FL, then doesn't that prevent another state - MD for example - from charging me tax? Or must I always be wary of the "90-day rule" in states other than my home state of FL?
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Old 09-01-2009, 19:40   #12
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If I pay sales tax to the state of FL on a USCG documented boat I purchase and register in FL, then doesn't that prevent another state - MD for example - from charging me tax?
I don't know of any state that won't let you pay the difference (if there is any owed). You won't get money back. It's the unwritten rule of taxation. "Once they get it they don't do refunds for leaving". Use tax is considered one time and just out of professional courtesy MD would not expect more than due if you paid FL. They really have to do that since if you were from MD and skipped to FL the FL police would help throw you in jail for beating MD taxes. The tax guys stick together.

If you can prove you paid something some place (to a US State or territory!) you get full credit for that effort. It's the American way!
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Old 09-01-2009, 22:48   #13
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Paul, what is RI like to keep a boat? Seems like it is centrally located and has quite a good area for living/storing a boat. I understand it has no taxes on documented vessels. Ohio is rumored to be a free state too, but going up the river at the end of crusing season? Sounds like a (current) drag.
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Old 10-01-2009, 00:32   #14
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If the boat is in Maryland for 90 days in a year

you WILL owe the taxes.

The same thing goes for drivers licenses, automobile tags.

Quote:
Originally Posted by markpj23 View Post
If I pay sales tax to the state of FL on a USCG documented boat I purchase and register in FL, then doesn't that prevent another state - MD for example - from charging me tax? Or must I always be wary of the "90-day rule" in states other than my home state of FL?
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Old 10-01-2009, 05:59   #15
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I've been to RI but never sailed there. The season is not that great until June. The only problem I have with Ohio is living there. Great Lakes sailing is quite good when the season is decent, but the season is short. All the fun of the ocean without the salt. Places up in Canada are exceptional!

I really think you want to keep your boat some place where you want to be and can get the most days boating. You pay so much money owning a boat that maximizing use has to be the number one concern. If you are not retired a location so you can skip out of work early sounds best. The costs compared to not boating very much are almost the same as boating constantly.
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