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Old 18-11-2015, 23:32   #1
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Boat registration and sales tax

I have done a bit of online research and not coming up with clear answers. My question.... We bought our boat in Virginia, we currently live in Missouri but will be sailing her to Florida where we are relocating to. The boat is in North Carolina where we will be heading south from this spring. What state do I register and pay the sales tax to so we are legal for the trip south? Any advice will be much appreciated!!!
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Old 19-11-2015, 05:08   #2
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Go to the source for accurate info. First, discuss with tax authorities in VA. That is most likely where sales tax is now due (your living in MO is probably not relevant, usually its the physical location of the boat). Could be that seller is responsible for the tax...what did your sale contract say?

If you have not paid sales tax and are in another State over their statutory timeframe (IIRC its 90 days in FL), they may come after you for the sales tax. Texas tried to do that to me.
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Old 19-11-2015, 05:36   #3
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

I can just betcha that NC will be the cheapest state of the three especially if her port is a rural area in NC.
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Old 19-11-2015, 05:52   #4
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Can't you simply sail out 12 miles, pay for it there and avoid taxes all together?

My question is where do you register a boat is there a DMV for boats? And do you get a "title" or "deed" ?
Or please point me to the appropriate post, my google fu isn't up to the task.
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Old 19-11-2015, 06:13   #5
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty Mike View Post
Can't you simply sail out 12 miles, pay for it there and avoid taxes all together?
No, you can't.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Salty Mike View Post
My question is where do you register a boat is there a DMV for boats? And do you get a "title" or "deed"?
In Florida there is just one DMV and they register boats, trucks, cars, everything. You either get a title or your boat has to be federally documented. If your boat qualifies for federal documentation, then it is up to you which one you choose. Again, this is for Florida. Most states are similar, but each has its own little differences.

Here is a document that explains Florida's sales/use tax laws:
http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/forms/current/gt800005.pdf

Here is a page with a document and FAQs on Florida registration:
Official Website Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

For the OP, normally you have to register the boat wherever it is located. I'm not familiar with NC's laws but my guess is that if you are keeping it there, they want you to have it registered there. Once you get to Florida, you will have 90 days to register the boat in Florida (unless you have never registered it anywhere else, in which case FL wants you to register it immediately). If you have not owned and used it for at least six months in another U.S. state or territory, then Florida will also want any difference between their sales/use tax rate and whatever you have already paid. The documents linked above explain all of this in more detail.
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Old 19-11-2015, 06:20   #6
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

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Originally Posted by Salty Mike View Post
Can't you simply sail out 12 miles, pay for it there and avoid taxes all together?

My question is where do you register a boat is there a DMV for boats? And do you get a "title" or "deed" ?
Or please point me to the appropriate post, my google fu isn't up to the task.
Used to be the case years ago in FL, but they plugged that loophole.

Also OP had already bought the boat.
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Old 19-11-2015, 06:37   #7
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

I would consider registering in the state where you will be spending the most amount of time. This time of year you can probably dance around a bit, it is having repair work done, etc., until you leave.
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Old 19-11-2015, 09:25   #8
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Usually you will have to settle up in VA before you leave, but if not, I believe NC has a max sales tax of $1500 on boats, but SC max is $300.00. If you stay in SC over 180 days, you will be subject to property tax, around 6% of the estimated value by the county auditor. Good Luck
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Old 19-11-2015, 09:30   #9
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

As you are RELOCATING in Florida you would be better off to register it here.
FYI sales tax in Broward is cheaper that Dade County, 6% of whatever the bill of sale says. wink... wink.
They do want that sticker or you are limited to 90 days. They do check.
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Old 19-11-2015, 09:48   #10
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

This question has reminded me of one that I had rolling around in my head since I considered joining the cruising lifestyle. The odds are pretty good that I will be buying my boat overseas, and bringing it back here till I head out on the big adventure, which hopefully would be fairly soon after the purchase. I live in MN, but the plan is to be an ex-pat, though I think it needs to be registered _somewhere_. I know some states have no sales tax (I could register it there?), and is sales tax even an issue if it isn't going to be based in the US? A little different angle than the OP, but kinda along the same lines. Very new to this, so thanks for the patience!
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Old 19-11-2015, 10:04   #11
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

alha....we too live in MN, but bought our boat in Singapore in 1999, when we lived/worked in Asia. We federally documented her(USCG) when we bought her, and could "pick" our home port....we picked Anchorage! We've since sailed from the Philippines to Singapore to Phuket, shipped to Turkey and spent 3 years cruising the Medd, shipped to the Caribb and are currently there. We renew our USCG "documention" each year, but have done nothing more. By the way, we are routinely asked for our documentation (and insurance) when we check into/out of a country and/or marina, so you need to have it! Our boat has never seen conus waters, and we don't expect to sail her there. So far......everyone's happy!
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Old 19-11-2015, 10:04   #12
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

I can only speak for Florida. If you buy a boat in Florida you can get a 90 day cruising permit through your broker, If you are not a Florida resident.
The boat must be out of Florida waters before 90 days.

May be the same in the state you purchased the boat. Then, when you arrive in Florida you would pay sales tax. The rate is 6% plus any local tax, usually a small amount. If Florida is where the boat will be then that is the way to do it.

If you decide to Document with USCG you still have to register in Florida and pay sales tax. You just wouldn't pay for a title.
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Old 19-11-2015, 10:06   #13
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Check with the VA tax authorities. There may be a grace period for moving the boat out of state before owing a tax liability. However, VA may be a good place to register if the boat is documented (low or no tax).

NC is limited to $1500 (as was mentioned), but may be less for a documented boat as well.

Many states will levy "Use Tax" on a boat that is registered and being "used" in its waters. Although many states have tax reciprocity, they will require you to make up the difference between what you paid in one state vs. theirs. States may give you a grace period to pass through their waters without owing use tax, but if you stay beyond that, will require registration - which will almost certainly bring a call or letter from the tax man. Many harbormasters and tax agents have good relationships - so you may not be able to duck paying tax by not registering (which is illegal anyway). If you do get caught, usually the state will ask you to pay the tax immediately without interest or penalty.

Net is, you may not be able to avoid the sales/use tax of the state you will be using the boat in. BoatUS has a good state-by-state summary on their website. You should also contact state taxation authorities to verify the current laws and their interpretation.
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Old 19-11-2015, 10:10   #14
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

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Originally Posted by sailcrazy View Post
alha....We renew our USCG "documention" each year, but have done nothing more. By the way, we are routinely asked for our documentation (and insurance) when we check into/out of a country and/or marina, so you need to have it! Our boat has never seen conus waters, and we don't expect to sail her there. So far......everyone's happy!
Thanks for the reply. I don't want to hijack this thread, so I'll start my own right now.
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Old 19-11-2015, 10:13   #15
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Re: Boat registration and sales tax

Hi Mayhemdog,

Very common question and due to the differences state to state the answer is not always easy. However as usual, Denverdon has the correct information but I may add a few more details.

If you are going to become a legal resident of Florida soon then you will probably have to pay the Florida sales tax which will be 6% or a bit more in some counties that add a 1/2-1% surcharge. There are ways around this if you are not a Florida resident when you buy the boat AND you don't buy the boat in Florida but you would have to keep and use the boat for a minimum of six months outside Florida and document it well.

From what I understand of your plans you may as well bite the bullet and pay the tax. If you get stuck for sales tax in another state Florida will give you credit for that so you don't have to double pay. Just make sure you document everything.
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