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Old 14-12-2010, 21:09   #1
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If You Could Buy a Boat Anywhere, Where Would it Be ?

I currently live in Utah and telecommute working anywhere there is marginal cell phone and internet connection. Iím planning on buying a boat to live aboard within the next 9 months and have been able to find boats that Iím interested in many different states and the Caribbean.

My question is, if I could buy a boat anywhere in the US or Caribbean, what would be the ideal situation from a boat cost/tax perspective as well as a Ďfuní perspective? For example, Iíve heard that some states do not tax boat purchases, maybe I should buy there. Or it might be fun to buy something in the northeastern US and sail down the east coast for a few months Better yet, maybe buy in the Caribbean and sail there for a while but Iím not sure of any tax or import implication of bring a boat back to the US.

I know there is a large degree of personal preference involved in the decision but feel that I should make the most of the buying experience and donít want to miss a good financial opportunity or cool experience by overlooking an idea or not thinking Ďout of the boxí enough.

Thanks for any ideas or comments.
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Old 14-12-2010, 21:39   #2
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Do the same thing i'm doing. Make a list of 'must haves' and search the net, cruise docks, whenever possible. Good deals pop up everywhere, just a matter of if it suits u or not. I'm not sure an area has a lot to do with "that really good buy".
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Old 14-12-2010, 22:44   #3
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The best boat purchase is the one that takes you cruising, the one that you fall in love with, the one that meets your wish list and the one you have the fun on.

You can have an adventure in Maine or in the Caribbean, the fun the boat provides is the fun you create on it. The boat is a means to a lifestyle you desire.

Sounds like you want to be on the east coast or Atlantic Ocean, so look online and find the boat you want. Start at that dock and go have fun, where ever it takes you.
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Old 14-12-2010, 23:51   #4
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In Ca we have sales tax on the sale and property tax on the value, as assessed, every year. In fact, we have a tax on everything, even taxes.
The weather in Southern California sure is nice but some other folks have noticed that as well and they decided to move there too.
My last boat was assessed at about 30 times what I paid for it. I offered to sell it to the assessor for 10% of their stated value. Eventually they let me pay the tax on what it was really worth, not high book value.
Mexico is nice this time of year.
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Old 15-12-2010, 01:53   #5
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Buying outside the US avoids US sales tax. If you do it someplace duty free, like St. Martin or at sea, you avoid all taxes. Then you can DOCUMENT the boat in the US (which is different from state registration, which costs $$). Consult a tax guy for confirmation, but I think that owning a boat for a year makes it "used" & therefore no import tax.

As far as where you want to live/cruise, that's entirely up to you. I've never done the E coast, but the E Caribbean is some of the nicest cruising grounds around. Navigation consists of "I want to go ... there". The sun & ocean are warm & the beer cold.
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Old 15-12-2010, 02:40   #6
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In St. Thomas there is no sales tax. Prices are usually less than the states also. You can get some real deals. Great place to keep a boat as you are in the middle of some of the best sailing/cruising grounds in the world.
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Old 15-12-2010, 04:21   #7
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As a CPA that does a lot of (or use to at least) tax work, my advice is don't let the "taxes" tail wag the "boat buying" dog. You are going to have to pay somewhere eventually or live with looking over your shoulder constantly and worrying about the interest and penalties when they catch up with you, so find the boat you really want and just pay the taxes. This may sound like heresy from a CPA but it is just now worth it. I bought a $70K sailboat last year and the Virginia taxes were about $1,300. I paid them and I sleep better.

Also, I documented the boat with a Maine hailing port so Maine came after me for sales taxes but once I showed them the boat was kept in Virginia and I had paid Virginia sales taxes they went away. With the ability to cross-reference documents from state to state, the states will track you down so pay somewhere and rest easier. That's my advice.
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Old 15-12-2010, 05:59   #8
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I concur with Doodles. I also think if you spend time looking at boats just where there are no taxes, you could miss a jewel just to avoid taxes.

Since I have a job on the hard that I can't telecommute to, I will travel to any boats I want to buy in person. Travel is expensive and flying to St. Thomas, etc. to avoid taxes, could end up costing much more.

I know, where would the adventure be if I didn't fly all over the world looking for the perfect boat.
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Old 15-12-2010, 06:18   #9
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There are ways to legally avoid the taxes. Learn the rules of your state, and if you buy out of the country. US DOCUMENTATION will avoid import tax. Been there, and done that, and haven't lost a night's sleep in nearly 9 years.

I started my cruise where I bought my boat, St. Maarten, and I was a Ca. resident then. PM me if you wish..........i2f
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Old 15-12-2010, 07:06   #10
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My comments above are only in regards to the sales/use taxes that states impose. I don't have any experience with import taxes and have never research the issue, so imagine2frolic may very well be correct on that point.
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Old 15-12-2010, 07:28   #11
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Thanks for all the replies. I'll definitely research the tax issues when I narrow the selection down to 3 or 4 boats and add that in (along with cruising options) as one of the pros/cons when evaluating a boat.
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Old 15-12-2010, 09:28   #12
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By buying out of the coountry, and the boat not seeing Ca. waters for at least 6 months makes sales, and any other state tax nul & void. I did pay state registration, and that was it...........i2f
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Old 15-12-2010, 11:26   #13
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Anywhere that has a sales tax has followed it up with a use tax, and in general buying the boat somewhere else won't avoid paying there tax.

Of course, the use taxes are all different, and depend on how much actual "use" is done in that state. And there may be no dependencies on registration and use in the state.

If you do end up paying any sales taxes at all, keep any and all documentation. I recently got a truck from my father, who had it last registered and titled in Alaska (no sales tax) and went to register it in Washington (about 9% sales tax). They wanted some tax on that, and it wasn't a cheap truck. The twist was, the truck was originally purchased by my father in Arizona, where he paid sales tax on it, and we were able to dig up the invoice on that showing tax paid. (and interestingly, surprising to me, incredibly little tax, like .5%, but just the fact that there was an amount in that line item was sufficient). So, if you pay any sales or use tax, keep that receipt forever. (and although the sales tax might be ridiculously low, I wouldn't suggest boat shopping in Arizona)
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:30   #14
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I think you have the right idea... Just purchase the boat, where the best deal maybe after extensive research and just enjoy sailing it around or back.. Sailing is the main and only goal, everything else is a distraction!! good luck
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Old 15-12-2010, 12:32   #15
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After 4 years of cruising, and settling down a bit in another state, Florida. They also exempted from any taxes after turning in my title.........i2f
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