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Old 03-01-2010, 00:23   #1
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Mexico or LA ?

If everything goes according to plan, my partner and I are buying a sailboat in Port Aransas, Tx. We will then need to take it out of the country or out of the state briefly.

Does anyone have any knowledge of sailing to the Mexican boarder in the Gulf of Mexico and a marina? I know this route is not picturesque, but is it safe? How long does it take? We could also go to LA but it is farther. We'll have less than a week to make the roundtrip.

Also any suggestions on good day sails or overnight sails out of Port A are much appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:51   #2
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If you are taking it to avoid taxes you better do your homework diligently. I do believe the boat also needs to be purchased out of the country, and verified with paperwork........i2f
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:11   #3
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- - Go to Google Earth and zoom in on the coast of Mexico starting at the U.S. border and pan south. You will be able to see harbors and whether there are only commercial freighters, etc. or also marinas with smaller boats. Then you can Google the particular harbor and find out more specific information about it. Don't forget you have to have Mexican-based insurance to operate in Mexican waters for any period of time.
- - Actually, in Florida anyway, you can purchase the boat quite legally inside the state but to avoid sales/use tax you need to leave the state in a short period of time for a foreign country. Although you have a temporary state registration you will need to get the boat documented in a foreign country rather quickly or you will be sailing a undocumented "stateless" (means without a home country) vessel and will have little or no chance of legally checking in anywhere.
- - Normally the documentation is done concurrent with the purchase while the boat is in dry storage (on the hard - which stops the clock on needing to depart so quickly). then with the new "foreign country" documentation you can depart for a foreign country then re-enter the USA and obtain a "cruising permit."
- - Generally speaking for a little boat (less than 100 footer) or if you are living in a foreign country permanently, going to all that trouble is really not worth it if you are a USA citizen. The foreign documentation setup and costs exceed the sales/use taxes of the local jurisdiction. Finding a "tax-friendly" State and registering there is a lot easier.
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:49   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. Let me clarify a few things.

First, yes, we are not keeping the boat in TX so we don't want to pay their sales tax. If we leave within 21 days we won't owe TX taxes.

Second, we will be documenting the boat with the USCG. We talked to TX wildlife department (sailing falls under wildlife for sure) and they will not need anything from us as the boat is already documented and not registered with TX.

What we want to do is leave before the 21 days but return to allow for more time to provision. Upon returning, we will have 90 days before triggering "use" tax.

So where do we go? We'll take a look at google as suggested. Are there any first-hand suggestions for any particular marinas?

While we're on it... USCG documented boats also need a home port. Ours would be Los Angeles. Do we owe "use" tax in CA even though we will not be keeping the boat there? Our plan is to set off into the sunsets... Any similar examples out there?

Thanks again for your time and suggestions.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:08   #5
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Beware of using LA as your home port. The LA County Tax Assessor wll come after you for personal property tax even if the boat never sets foot in LA County. We went through that ballony with them for two years after we had relocated to Florida (our boat's former home port was Alamitos Bay in Long Beach). The assessor went so far as to put a "tax lien" notice on our credit report that wasn't removed for over 7 years.

FWIW...
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:18   #6
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You could use Washington. I tried to register a boat there that wasnt in the state (I am a resident with address)....they wouldnt take my money if the boat was not in the state!..... so I doubt if they are going to come after you for tax!!
BTW: For documentation, your home port can be anywhere.... doesnt have to be near the water! I picked an old town that disappeared probably a 100 years ago!
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Old 04-01-2010, 07:51   #7
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There is an old thread somewhere that discusses all the implications of documenting and registering your boat in the USA. Documentation is Federal level and is primarily for those who will be sailing outside the USA to other countries. Registration is for the States inside the USA so that they can assess you tax/use fees on keeping the boat within the State and its waters.
- - If you keep and operate the boat outside USA waters then Federal level documentation is all you need. However is the boat is used or kept inside USA waters then the various States want some of your money for using their waters, public facilities, etc. Just like automobiles each State will honor the registration from another State. But each State can say that if you are using/keeping the boat within their waters for an extended period of time - usually about 90 days or more, then you must "chip in" and pay a "use" fee/tax even if the boat was/is registered in another state. You do not need to get new registration numbers but you need to pay and get a little decal that says that you paid the local tax/fee. A way around this is to never keep the boat in one location for more than the "90 day" period. Some States are hot to keep track of your boat and get the money - others are very lax and don't bother pressing the issue. Florida and most probably Calif are very hot to get your money.
- - If you own a home and/or work in one particular State, it gets extremely "dicey" to have the boat registered in a different State and try to avoid the tax/use fee. If they catch you it will be more expensive than just paying initially. You need to coordinate your "tax home" with all other aspects such as home, work, drivers license, voting registration, etc. Federal and States and local level governments want their share of your money and cooperate to make sure you pay one place or the other - sometimes more than one place.
- - If you remain outside the waters of the USA then you can drop the State registration - but - if you return to USA waters then you can get hit with some heavy costs trying to get the boat "registered" again. Sometimes it is just easier to maintain continuity by paying the registration renewal fees each year even when outside the USA. You have to do the math to find out which is best.
- - Trying to out wit the local tax collector is generally more trouble than the savings unless you are thinking about some seriously heavy hitting States like California and a few others. Historically most States were rather lax about the whole process, but with the current financial crisis, tax collectors have been mandated to squeeze every penny they can from our wallets, so be very careful and remember to coordinate all your residence, work and tax jurisdictions so that it does not look like you are actively trying to "evade" paying taxes. If they catch you, that gets really expensive.
- - If you do not any any State registration - don't count on the 90 day "grace" period. Some States - if you do not a State Registration from somewhere in the USA - will require you to "register" and pay immediately if they catch you. The State 90-day period is primarily only valid if you have another State's registration decal.
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:40   #8
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How bout this

First off every state is different. Some require state registration, whether documented or not. Some don't. I think Texas is one that does. Louisiana also requires registration. I bought a boat in Texas a few years ago, that was documented. Purchased it from an individual. I didn't say anything to anyone. Just transferred the documentation and went on my way. The state has no way of knowing if you purchase a documented boat from an individual.
If buying from a dealer, or through a broker, it's a different situation. As for getting the boat out of state within 21 days, to avoid said taxes. You could probably make La. and back in a week, but you would really have to hustle, and would have to do it offshore, which could be really snotty this time of year. How bout if you just head offshore, to international waters, and turn around. You could pick a good looking weather day, and make it out and back in a day. As to Mexico, there is a place about 100 miles S. of Brownsville, called LaPesca. There is no such thing as a marina there, but there is a nice anchorage just inside the jetty, and there is diesel available a couple miles up the river. But this would also be a really hard trip to make in a week. And like La. you would have to make it an offshore run to do it that fast.
As to home port, you can put any home port you like on the boat. You can use Phoenix, or Denver if you like.
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:25   #9
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Originally Posted by Nice N Easy View Post
The state has no way of knowing if you purchase a documented boat from an individual.
When you document or re-document I believe the CG notifies the State in which the address resides to which you requested the Certificate be mailed. They actually may be smarter than that at and actually check records to determine your State of residence.
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Old 04-01-2010, 12:14   #10
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I bought a boat in Canada and had to get it out of the country or pay Canadain tax. I took it to Washington State. They wanted tax as well after a certain time period. I took the boat back to Canada to have some work done on a work improt permit. I played the boat back and forth across the border to keep it out of either locations tax authority. After about a year I had used up all my "get out of Jail (read taxes) Free" cards and took the boat to Oregon -- Where there is no sales tax. The boat was registered in the State of Montana another state with no sales tax. It is owned by a corporaton. I am a resident of California. I was opposed to paying a sales tax b/c I am commuter cruising on the boat not staying in any one place for a long period of time. The boat is currently in Mexico. California is very complicated. They audit the USCG documented boats for people setting up phoney companies to won baots so that they can collect their tax. I met the requirements by extensively documenting the fact that the boat was not in California for one year of ownership before it came in to California. It cost me a lot of money travelling to and from the boat etc. I think that their is a price point where it is no longer worth doing. I'd say anything under $150k (for California) and it will cost more to not pay the tax then to simply pay the tax.
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Old 04-01-2010, 13:53   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nice N Easy View Post
...As for getting the boat out of state within 21 days, to avoid said taxes. You could probably make La. and back in a week, but you would really have to hustle, and would have to do it offshore, which could be really snotty this time of year. How bout if you just head offshore, to international waters, and turn around. You could pick a good looking weather day, and make it out and back in a day. As to Mexico, there is a place about 100 miles S. of Brownsville, called LaPesca. There is no such thing as a marina there, but there is a nice anchorage just inside the jetty, and there is diesel available a couple miles up the river...
If my experience with other states is any indication, Texas will probably want to see documented proof that you actually moved the boat out of the state before the sales tax deadline. They will not simply take your word for it. Proof could be a marina bill or fuel bill from another state or country.
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Old 04-01-2010, 15:49   #12
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My only experience

A few years ago, I purchased a boat in Rockport, Texas. A documented boat. Moved it down to Port Mansfield, and lived aboard for a year down there, before moving to Louisiana. I showed Port Mansfield as a mailing address, and Slidell, La. as homeport. I simply transferred the documentation, and did not pay sales tax, nor did I have any problems with doing this. This was about 6 years ago, so things have very possibly changed by now. You might consider La. as there is no sales tax in La. on a boat more than ten years old. They do require registration whether documented or not. Started this last year. Registration for my 37 was 73 bucks for three years. Not a big deal. I have some friends there who purchased new boats after Katrina, and they formed an LLC in Deleware, as owners, to avoid the high sales tax in La.
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