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Old 11-03-2006, 09:46   #1
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Live aboard details

We are about to leave land (Michigan) and move aboard our Pearson 424. Questions: How to handle driver's license renewals? What is our permanent address when we are on the move for the next few years? What have you live aboards from income tax states done about your state tax filings ( which we are tring to avoid )? Thanks and thanks again.

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Old 11-03-2006, 13:46   #2
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Moving aboard a boat might be a way to avoid property taxes (those not included as part of your slip fee, anyway), but not income taxes. You'd still be living within the state borders and subject to them, address or no.

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Old 11-03-2006, 13:52   #3
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In my case my permanent address is now a postal box at a mail forwarding service. You still pay income tax though obviously on a different basis if not working full time. Electronic filing is good thing makes it much easier. If you want no state income tax you need to relocate to a state with non i.e Florida. If you decide that's the path St Brendan's Isle[mail service] is down there and they have a great reputation.
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Old 11-03-2006, 14:08   #4
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My " office " is actually an address only for me. I do rent the boardroom now and then to see clients. It is a group of offices ( probably a name for this, a business center I think ) Cost fifty per month. If it is a street number and street name it is hard to tell it is an office address. So that's where most of my stuff goes. Sometimes there can be a problem. Canada customs would not take a cheque when the address on the cheque was different from my actual residence.
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Old 12-03-2006, 06:30   #5
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Stein, welcome aboard (literally) from a fellow 424 owner & cruising sailor.

Re: your Q about changing your permanent residence, the 'how' and 'why' of this can vary quite a bit from one family to the next. First, keep in mind that it's far easier to establish residence in a new state than it is to be perceived as no longer a resident by your previous state. Getting 'unstuck' can be devilishly difficult.

This leads me to point #2: the best single source of meaningful info on this topic is available in two places, the tax collector's office in your current locale/current state of residence and the tax collector's office where you intend to set up your new residence. I see this kind of Q posted all the time on BB's but the reality is that different states have different procedures, and you want to understand your current state's view on legal residence - completely, clearly - as well as how to comply with establishing residence somewhere else. Tax collectors are the people you want to talk to about this, not just fellow sailors.

Point #3 is that tax collector websites are not the best source of this info, altho' they do help because you can get hard copy of anything that is being stated and with which you intend to comply. Talking to live people so you can iteratively Q&A as you build your understanding of the issue is IMO very helpful in gaining a complete understanding.

Where are you headed with your 424? You'll really enjoy her; she's a great boat for both cruising and the liveaboard lifestyle.

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Old 12-03-2006, 08:09   #6
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If you will be owning property in Michigan, retain your Michigan drivers license, and your boat is registered in Michigan, I think you can pretty well count on Michigan considering you a resident. As such, you will be liable for all and any taxes applicable to a resident. As Jack said, you should check with the tax office in your county on just what this will entail.

I do know people outside of Michigan that own property there are liable for some taxes, though not sure just what they are. Even if you establish an address elsewhere, having a Michigan drivers license and boat registration would at least make you a part time resident.

Most of the snowbirds here in northern Indiana have Florida plates and drivers licenses, since there is no state income tax there, and that makes them a part time resident in Indiana, which lowers their state income tax for Indiana.

Once again, as Jack said, your local tax office would be your best source for info.
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:43   #7
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Hello All.
Let me try to be more clear. We will be moving aboard, selling all real estate and storing all else. The boat is currently registered with the Coast Guard in N. Carolina. We do not intend to live there (on Land) but perhaps sail their waters for some months. Our sole vehicle is registered in Michigan along with our driver's license. We will not live again in Mich. Insurance, pension, income tax and all the other authorities want a PERMANENT ADDRESS. The boat is transient and so are we. Thanks for all of your ideas and info.
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Old 12-03-2006, 08:57   #8
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"Most of the snowbirds here in northern Indiana have Florida plates and drivers licenses, since there is no state income tax there, and that makes them a part time resident in Indiana, which lowers their state income tax for Indiana."

Why hell I don't mind being beaten up on this subject.

Florida drivers license renewal is a snap. You can do it on your computer over the internet. All Florida wants is your money. Just enter a credit card number and you will get a sticker to paste on the back of your license card. Google Florida driver license renewal and you will probably find the site.

I believe Texas is another state with no income tax. If you are paying something like $2000 in state income taxes, for a couple of hundred dollars you can make better use of this money.
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Old 12-03-2006, 19:06   #9
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One thing I found is that Florida has no income tax, but it has a property tax on "intangible assets" -- that means stocks and mutual funds. I don't know if they include bank accounts, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. While cruising, I expected to have very little income, so I couldn't see an advantage to changing my residence to a state that taxes my savings instead.

I never found a good answer to the residency problem, because the government just doesn't even have a concept that you might not have a permanent address.

As far as I know, in the US you can only get a driver's license from a state government, and I'm not aware of any states that issue them to people who are not residents.

In Florida, you can swear under oath that you intend to reside in Florida, though I wonder if you could defend that claim if you haven't actually been there.

In Maryland, you have to give a physical address; a post office box or mail service is not acceptable. I asked the MVA what to do if I would be travelling and not have a home address. The best suggestion I got was "ask a friend if you can use their address".

On occasion, I've thought of telling the MVA "I am homeless", based on the assumption that they've probably at least HEARD of homless people. I haven't tried it, though.

Lately, I've chosen a marina to use as a "home base", so I have an actual address to give the state.
Mark S.
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Old 12-03-2006, 19:20   #10
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I tried the homeless story with Ca DMV. They refused to give me my renewal until I provided an address. I finally found a supervisor who would accept that I lived on a boat, and my physical address was more abstract than a PO box. The PO box is now on the license.
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Old 12-03-2006, 19:21   #11
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Wink homelessness

Thanks Mark
Let me know how that homeless idea works for you. It seems that honesty will get me nowhere on this one. "You live on a boat without a permanent address????? We do not have a space for that answer."

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