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Old 28-07-2018, 00:00   #1
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Taxes on buying a boat abroad

This is complicated to me so I don't even know where to start.

- Boat is registered in UK.
- Owner seems to be in UK.
- Boat is in Trinidad
- Broker seems to be in Spain (why Spain?) Sound fishy?

Sunbird International Yacht Sales
Puerto Portals, local 10
Calvia
07181 Mallorca
Spain

What taxes (VAT, Sales, other) and fees (Import dues, broker fees, registration fees) would I be paying?

I am an American cruiser now on my boat in Fiji. My mailing address is Florida but I consider Texas home and the company I work for is in Texas (I telecommute). I know Texas requires a sales tax to be paid when registering it there but the boat will not be there for many years to come, so that can be delayed. I plan on registering the boat with USCG to show proof of ownership (that is basically all I have now for this boat). I don't remember much for fees on that...maybe less than $100.

I need to know because I think this boat is going fast and I just barely have enough to cover the asking price. Please help. I don't even know which country to look up the tax laws: Spain, UK, Trinidad or US.

Thanks in advance,
Franklin
s/v Dreamboat
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Old 28-07-2018, 13:09   #2
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Re: Taxes on buying a boat abroad

"Texas requires a sales tax to be paid when registering it there but the boat will not be there for many years to come, so that can be delayed."
Don't bet on it. For instance, if you put the home port on the USCG documentation (please, don't call it registration) papers, they will notify Texas. And if Texas charges use tax, they may come after you for that--even if the boat hasn't entered the state. Or, fifteen years down the line (as happened to a boat owner who "finally" got home to NY) when you do register it they will say "Oh, right, and that's ## years of penalties and interest you owe, you should have paid this when you bought it."
You'll need to check out *all* the possible taxes and charges that may affect you. Bringing the boat in to the US may require paying a customs tariff. Bringing it or keeping it in the EU might require VAT. Trinidad? Who knows. If it is US flagged, it may be subject to import taxes if it is kept more than 90 days (6 months? a year?) in any jurisdiction.
You need to draw up a list of every sovereign that might have a claim on the boat due to any reason (citizenship, residence, sale, transit, export, import) and then contact each one directly, because these things change from year to year.
And with a UK boat (one sovereign) located in Trinidad (second sovereign) you'd want to make sure there's a good current title search and there are no claims against the boat. Also beware that Trinidad is one of the few places that allow very effective TBT bottom paint. But enter US or other waters with that on your boat--and you may have a problem, since most of the world has banned it.
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Old 28-07-2018, 16:52   #3
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Re: Taxes on buying a boat abroad

I know Texas. They only require that you prove an sales tax has been paid when dirst registering.

Yes...my mistake, USCG is just Documenting. I believe that is all I need from USA for now.
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Old 29-07-2018, 13:43   #4
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Re: Taxes on buying a boat abroad

"They only require that you prove an sales tax has been paid when dirst registering."
That's the same thing as New York. Rather more particularly, the DMV will not issue a registration without being shown proof that sales tax has been paid. That satisfies the registration laws, but it DOES NOT satisfy the tax laws. The tax laws are way more complicated than that.
For instance, I can keep a boat in NYS "forever" without having to register the boat. All that I have to do, is make sure the boat is only "in the navigable waters" for no more than 89 consecutive days at a time. Dock it in the water, go across the state line overnight once every three months, and I'd never have to register it.
Now, if I didn't register it, no one would be asking me for sales or use tax, either. Except, the tax department actually does their own checks for that. Walks the docks, gets lists of marina contracts, finds other ways to make sure Caesar has been rendered unto.
If you maintain a Texas residency, check your tax laws. Registration really doesn't affect those, it is just one checkpoint among many rules.
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Old 29-07-2018, 13:51   #5
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Re: Taxes on buying a boat abroad

I tried to register a boat in WA while it was not in the state. They wouldn't let me! Not sure what your plan is, but you could use the boat outside the US and put it up for sale when you return and pay no tax on it.
The trouble is the USCG document technically requires that the CG has access to inspect it for the Doc number placement and installation etc. The reality is they never do.
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