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Old 02-04-2008, 13:28   #1
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Registering Documented Vessel in FL?

I purchased a trawler here in FL back in early January. We have been living aboard at a different marina about 5 miles away ever since. I handed over the cashiers check and the owner signed the back of the Coast Guard Documentation Certificate. I finally received my new Documentation Certificate back from the Coast Guard so I am trying to get my FL registration sticker. They are telling me that a bill of sale is required. I don't have one and one was never created. From everything I read, it isn't legally required and the only requirement is to fill out the "sale of vessel" blanks on the back of the Documentation (which we did). I could possibly get in touch with the P.O. but I'd rather not. Wouldn't anything the P.O. and myself write up now be invalid and fraudulent anyway? Also, what are the tax requirements for the sale? The owner told me that I wouldn't have to pay sales tax on the documented vessel, but I'm reading very conflicting reports. What do I do? FYI the vessel had expired reg stickers on it from before the P.O. owned it so I don't think he ever registered it himself.
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Garrett
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Old 02-04-2008, 13:45   #2
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In Floriduh you are required to pay the taxes on a vessel you purchased and keep in their waters. If they say they require a bill of sale then that is what they require and you will need to have the previous owner provide a notarized copy. Don't understand why you would not want to do that if the sale is on the up and up. Just because the previous owner said you would not pay taxes doesn't make it so. These are the kinds of information YOU should have collected prior to the sale.
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Old 02-04-2008, 13:51   #3
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Garrett, the Florida tax & vehicle agencies have great web sites that cover this all, check them directly. As I recall, once you own a vessel in FL oyu have 90 days max in which to register it and pay the sales tax--or get it out of state. After the 90th day penalties and interest accrue, so you REALLY need to get moving on this.

What some guy told you when he sold you the boat (or what some guy tells you here<G>) doesn't count. Get it directly from the tax man!

If FL wants a bill of sale and you have nothing that says "I sold and he bought" or whatever they want--you may have a problem and you may need to find the PO, or another way to produce that paper. Most states have a mechanism that will let you produce a good title (which the USCG documentation confirms) and an affadavit statement without a bill of sale.

Either use the web sites, or go to one of the storefronts, and do it FAST. Unless you've got an antique boat--you've got a tax bill due. (IIRC Florida exempts "antique" boats meaning those over 30 years old.)
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Old 02-04-2008, 13:58   #4
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It misses being antique by about a year. The sale was on the up and up. The PO is just a grouchy older guy that I'd rather not have to deal with, but I guess I have to. It will be double fun if I have to get it notarized. I know, I know, shame on me for not knowing ahead of time. I was under a little bit of stress at the time because of the moving and having to get another job in a hurry and getting rid of the house.....it's no excuse but that's what happened.
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Old 02-04-2008, 14:21   #5
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What's that old sailors' saying? "Paperwork happens!" Um, something like that.<G>

A friend of mine went to register a boat a few years ago, having bought out his partner, and there were no changes except removing one name from the title. Nope, he could't do it. All of a sudden the HIN was one number too short to be possible or valid (even though it was already registered) and they required a photograph or tracing of the HIN. Of course, the hull was old and repainted, so the HIN was practically invisible. Couldn't trace it clearly, couldn't photograph it clearly...Let's just say, eventually a picture was obtained that showed the HIN was exactly what it was, which is what was registered, which is what they said it couldn't be. But even then it took a supervisor to agree to "just" change the name and accept the "impossible" HIN that was already in the system.

Render unto every petty Caeser, and all that good stuff. (ugh.) Then go sailing and try to forget about it.

I will give Florida credit for one thing--they've got all their regs on the web, at least they make it possible to FIND the rules.
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Old 02-04-2008, 14:33   #6
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I called. It's only a $10 late fee. I don't need the Bill of Sale notarized. They are OK with it being created now even though the sale was back in January. I find that last part amazing because I don't see how the document can be legit in a legal sense. I hope I can remember the exact selling price... They told me to "get it any way you have to". It's amazing what they'll do to squeeze another dollar out of you.
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Old 02-04-2008, 18:19   #7
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When I registered my boat back in october, all I did was take the title which had been signed over to me to the registration office. I understand that the USCG holds your title if the boat is documented, is this correct? In that case, the documentation papers should work in their place. I read the bill of sale thing too, and I was a bit confused, but that seems to be only if you are financing the boat and the bank is holding the title. Although, I don't know if the USCG holding the title is similar.

Bureaucrazies....
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Old 02-04-2008, 20:26   #8
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I find that last part amazing because I don't see how the document can be legit in a legal sense. I hope I can remember the exact selling price...
..

With a USCG document in hand and your name on it you own the boat - period no possible questions. If there is a loan you still own the boat but the title is encumbered as noted on the document. No one will give you touble. The problem is they already know you own the boat (they download from the USCG computer regualrly). They need you to fess up and pay the taxes.

It's all 100% about taxes now. Your 90 days being up means you owe the tax period even if you leave. They can and will come after you. They can use the USCG information to find you and they don't give up quickly. You would need to prove you left before 90 days. There is no trial for taxes it's one of those times you are guilty untill you prove you are not.

Without a bill of sale it's no problem they will appraise it and set the value to compute the tax (maybe not a value you will like). You need that biil of sale! Don't be stupid and low ball a fake price. FL is just one of the few states that really knows all about this game.
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Old 02-04-2008, 21:17   #9
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"I handed over the cashiers check"
No doubt you kept the carbon copy of this. And if you didn't the issuer can generate a copy or confirmation for you. That will help indicate the actual sales price (it isn't proof, but if it comes near to book price it probably will be accepted as such) and that's what the tax/registration people want to know. A bill of sale would give them a number to use, absent that number and that bill of sale, they may tell you "here's the blue book, here's what you're paying tax on" and you'll have to refute/appeal that.
If the cashier's check was annotated (i.e. "for purchase of...") a copy of the cashed check would help.
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:45   #10
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IN regards to sales tax in Florida, this happens all the time with private auto sales. They will send you a letter if they think the declared price for sales tax is too low. You sign the affidavit and mail it back, case closed.
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:19   #11
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this happens all the time with private auto sales. They will send you a letter if they think the declared price for sales tax is too low. You sign the affidavit and mail it back, case closed.
I was a little bit slow registering in our county for property tax. Technically I owed no tax for 2007, but because the boat showed up on a USCG download they just sent me the papers already filled out and a bill. The value they set was almost 40% higher than what I paid. In the end I just told them the price paid and they did not ask for a bill of sale and the matter was cleared up quickly without any more effort than filling in the paperwork. I do have actual paper work filed with the state that did include a Bill of sale so you need to keep your stories straight. Things not connected can become connected. In the case of state registered boats they are connected here in VA just like cars.

Blue book values on cars are generally pretty close given they make millions of them. Our boat only had 80 made over about 20 years and each was built to order so the blue book value is pretty worthless, but they don't mind using it if they have to.
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:31   #12
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I actually got in contact with the P.O. last night. He's going to create a bill of sale and mail it to me when I call him back on Friday to give him the address (per his request). All of this has me disliking Florida more and more. Insane property taxes, toll roads everywhere, sky high utilities, and 6% minimum taxes on any vehicle. It's insane. I'm used to 3%, which still sucks but is much more reasonable. I hate taxes. I can't wait until the day that I have enough money to change to a different boat and just "go". I'll use an accurate bill of sale, but this whole thing is now crap. The state is basically telling me to forge a document so that I can give them money. It's BS.
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Old 03-04-2008, 05:38   #13
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All of this has me disliking Florida more and more. Insane property taxes, toll roads everywhere, sky high utilities, and 6% minimum taxes on any vehicle.
No income tax comes at a price - this is one of them.

Quote:
The state is basically telling me to forge a document so that I can give them money.
I think you now understand completly.
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