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Old 21-01-2011, 21:09   #1
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Question Importing Custom Boat Into Florida

Difficult sorting out Florida registration & tax rules. Bringing 3 year old custom/homebuilt 55' catamaran from Trinidad to keep in Florida for a few years. Paid VAT and import duties on all materials in Trinidad. USCC documented. What kind of pain am I in for from legalities and the tax man??
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:19   #2
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US citizen? US resident? Florida resident? Will the boat be USCG documented? State of FL registration?
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Old 21-01-2011, 21:50   #3
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More Info!

Yes...USCG documented. Texas resident.

Loctite still in good shape!!
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Old 22-01-2011, 06:12   #4
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Yes...USCG documented. Texas resident.
From previous research, if you were NOT a FL resident, purchase a boat NOT in FL, keep and use that boat NOT in FL for minimum of 6 months and then move to FL you will not have to pay the 6-7% (varies by local surtaxes) sales tax on the purchase price of the boat. The wording on the various websites of State of Florida have changed since I last did the research so I plan to call the appropriate offices to see if the policies have changed but if you were not and have not resided in Florida you should be safe from the tax.

On the other hand, you will have to pay the state boat registration fee (even if you are USCG registered) but that is minimal, maybe $100-$200 per year for a large boat.


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Loctite still in good shape!!
Is that the rich man's version or the poor man's version?
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Old 22-01-2011, 07:28   #5
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You will have to pay Florida Tax on the boat unless you can prove you have paid the tax in another state. I do not know if the VAT will qualify.
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Old 22-01-2011, 07:56   #6
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You will have to pay Florida Tax on the boat unless you can prove you have paid the tax in another state. I do not know if the VAT will qualify.
Unless the FL law has changed recently that is correct only for Florida residents who purchase and keep a boat in Florida or register the boat in Florida.

If however, you lived in Texas, purchased and used a boat in Texas, and then years later moved to Florida with your boat you would not have to pay sales tax on the boat or any other personal possession for that matter. You would have to pay Florida registration fees.
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Old 22-01-2011, 08:03   #7
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If you haven't payed sales tax in another state you will have to pay Fl. Sales tax. If you payed sales tax in another state and it was less than the Fl. Sales tax you will be charged the difference. Not sure though if your bringing the boat in from a foreign country.
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Old 22-01-2011, 08:41   #8
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If you haven't payed sales tax in another state you will have to pay Fl. Sales tax. If you payed sales tax in another state and it was less than the Fl. Sales tax you will be charged the difference. Not sure though if your bringing the boat in from a foreign country.
Here is a quote copied from one of the State of Florida web sites last year. They updated and changed some of their sites and a lot of information has changed or moved so would not guarantee that this is still the policy.

"Use tax and surtax are not due on boats brought to Florida if you meet all of the following
conditions:
You own the boat 6 months or longer, and
You have shown no intent to use the boat in Florida at or before the time of purchase,
and
The boat has been in use 6 months or longer within the taxing jurisdiction of another
state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia. Time spent in foreign waters does not
count as part of the 6-month period."
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Old 22-01-2011, 09:23   #9
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Importing Custom Boat Into Florida

Thanks for all of the input! The boat is now in Puerto Rico where it spent the last hurricane season and will spend the next year. Maybe that will qualify for 6 months in a US Territory?
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Old 22-01-2011, 10:55   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Here is a quote copied from one of the State of Florida web sites last year. They updated and changed some of their sites and a lot of information has changed or moved so would not guarantee that this is still the policy.

"Use tax and surtax are not due on boats brought to Florida if you meet all of the following
conditions:
You own the boat 6 months or longer, and
You have shown no intent to use the boat in Florida at or before the time of purchase,
and
The boat has been in use 6 months or longer within the taxing jurisdiction of another
state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia. Time spent in foreign waters does not
count as part of the 6-month period."
I hope that's true. Maybe some new regulations. I've never been that lucky in Florida!
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Old 22-01-2011, 11:09   #11
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Importing a custom boat into FL

Here's a straightforward way to find out what you need: Call Steve Brown
Sr. tax specialist for marine issue at the Fl Dept of Revenue. His phone was 561-640-2878 several yrs ago. He can tell you what's correct and can provide documentation of payments if necessary. Good Luck; Capt. T Hanna
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Old 24-01-2011, 08:05   #12
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The boat is now in Puerto Rico where it spent the last hurricane season and will spend the next year. Maybe that will qualify for 6 months in a US Territory?
Absolutely. You will NOT have to pay sales or use tax to the state of Florida. If you keep the boat in FL for more than 90 days you will have to register it there, but the fee is minimal--less than $200 on the very largest of boats.
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Old 24-01-2011, 08:15   #13
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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
From previous research, if you were NOT a FL resident, purchase a boat NOT in FL, keep and use that boat NOT in FL for minimum of 6 months and then move to FL you will not have to pay the [tax].
This is actually true even if you ARE a resident of Florida.

Doing some research just a couple of days ago I found documentation on the FL Dept. of Rev. website about a case of a man who was a legal resident of Florida, but also lived in Washington part time. He bought a boat in Washington (where they do not charge sales tax on boats). He used that boat up and down the West coast of the U.S. for almost a year. He then moved it to Florida.

He was initially told that he would have to pay tax (which is why you should not rely on what someone who answers the phone at some state office tells you!). He retained an attorney to pursue the matter for him. The final ruling on the matter was that, because he had documented evidence of having used the boat outside of FL for more than 6 months, he did NOT have to pay any sales or use tax. Had he bought the boat in Washington, and just let it sit until he moved it to FL, then he would have had to pay the tax.

Clearly the case of the OP fits the description above. The boat was bought some time ago. Should be easy to document that it has been used outside of FL, and was not bought only for use in FL. Use in Puerto Rico will qualify for the required six months period. Keep some documentation of your use of the boat (gas receipts, dockage fees, whatever) and you definitely will NOT owe any use or sales tax to the state of Florida.
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Old 24-01-2011, 17:49   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n
This is actually true even if you ARE a resident of Florida.

Doing some research just a couple of days ago I found documentation on the FL Dept. of Rev. website about a case of a man who was a legal resident of Florida, but also lived in Washington part time. He bought a boat in Washington (where they do not charge sales tax on boats). He used that boat up and down the West coast of the U.S. for almost a year. He then moved it to Florida.

He was initially told that he would have to pay tax (which is why you should not rely on what someone who answers the phone at some state office tells you!). He retained an attorney to pursue the matter for him. The final ruling on the matter was that, because he had documented evidence of having used the boat outside of FL for more than 6 months, he did NOT have to pay any sales or use tax. Had he bought the boat in Washington, and just let it sit until he moved it to FL, then he would have had to pay the tax.

Clearly the case of the OP fits the description above. The boat was bought some time ago. Should be easy to document that it has been used outside of FL, and was not bought only for use in FL. Use in Puerto Rico will qualify for the required six months period. Keep some documentation of your use of the boat (gas receipts, dockage fees, whatever) and you definitely will NOT owe any use or sales tax to the state of Florida.
Great news for us!! Thanks for the responses and good input. We're for sure headed to Florida next Fall. Now for the difficult search for a place to keep a 55' catamaran in the midst of motor boat heaven.
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