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Old 05-12-2011, 19:49   #1
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Buying a Boat in Florida but Live in Alaska

We are about to buy a boat in Florida and need some financial and strategy information.

Since we live in Alaska we pay no sales tax if we register it in Alaska. True or False?

If we stay in another state over 90 days we may have to register it in the state. Florida registration is about $135 per year. True or False?

Alaska DMV says that if we document the boat then we do not have to register it. True or False?

Alaska DMV says they do not Title a boat. All I will need is a bill of sale and MSO or MCO (Certificate of Origin. True or False

The boat we are looking at is about 25,000 to 29,000 lbs, 44 to 45 ft long, sailboat.

Is it true we do not have to register it?
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Old 05-12-2011, 20:36   #2
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Re: Buying a boat in Florida but live in Alaska

The part about being in most States for more than XX days and then having to "register" the boat there is true. But "registration" does not only mean changing the title documents, it is also a way of getting you to pay for your "use" of the State's waters.

- - There are a few States that do not issue "Titles" for boats - "Titles" are a form of proof of ownership. However, under Alaska law, you must register your boat in Alaska, if you keep it there more than 90 days with some exceptions - Alaska is a little weird. See: Boat Registration

- - In non-Title States you have only the Bill of Sale to establish your ownership of the vessel. If that gets lost you are in deep do-do. If you qualify (over 5 net tons) you can USCG document your boat to demonstrate ownership. Also it is something nice to have (some say required to have) if you take the boat outside USA waters.

- - But even if you are USCG Documented - and keep the boat in a particular State's waters for more than XX consecutive days you will need to comply with that State's "registration" requirements - again a way the State gets your share of money for having the boat in their waters.

- - You can Google each State of interest to find out their requirements and fees - it can vary considerably. So where you keep the boat or use the boat for more than XX consecutive days, will determine where you will have to "register" the boat and pay them their "due."

** The "XX" is because different States have different time limits, but the most frequently listed is 90 days.

- - To keep thing simple for your boat - I would recommend USCG documentation (you can D-I-Y the process) and then you only have to deal with a State's "use taxes/registration/fees" if the boat is kept there.
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Old 05-12-2011, 20:49   #3
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Re: Buying a boat in Florida but live in Alaska

In Florida you will also be charged a sales tax if you buy the boat in FL and do not remove it before 90 days, no matter where you register the boat. Sales tax varies by county but will be a minimum of 6%.

Reference to the state of FL Dept of Revenue. http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/forms/2010/gt800005.pdf

I see that they have changed the wording since I last read the rules. It now says that to be tax exempt you must purchase the boat from a dealer or broker AND remove the boat within the time limit. I would call the FL DOR and ask for a clarification if you plan to buy from a private owner.

FL registration will be required if you keep the boat in state. Don't remember exactly but $135 sounds like the ball park.
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Old 05-12-2011, 21:10   #4
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Re: Buying a boat in Florida but live in Alaska

Thanks to CF (old thread) and the fact that my boat is 37 years old with the original engine - I registered it as an "antique" and saved the approximate $135. Took the State agent 30 minutes to figure out what I was talking about but it worked. So there is occasionally some good info on CF. . .
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Old 05-12-2011, 21:46   #5
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I tried the antique route this past year and according to the tax collectors office, you can only get a Florida antique registration if the vessel is not documented. The local office even called in to verify .
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Old 06-12-2011, 06:21   #6
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Re: Buying a Boat in Florida but Live in Alaska

As with most things involving "State revenue" who and where you go makes a lot of difference. There is some variation in the ability of the "representative" to read and understand laws and regulations. They tend to default to whatever they did before and also towards collecting money if at all possible to get away with it.
- - So I did my homework before hand and I downloaded the State Law on the subject and nothing in there precluded USCG documented vessels. Plus I had an "clerk" that was pleased to see somebody be able to take advantage of what might be called a special "loophole." So my USCG Documented "antique" boat had no problems.
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Old 06-12-2011, 07:30   #7
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Re: Buying a Boat in Florida but Live in Alaska

I am an AK resident and went through a similar situation. I ended up taking delivery of the boat in SC, paying the sales tax there. At the time it was capped at a few hundred dollars, probably still is. It was important not to have the boat in FL waters for a period of at least 90 days, might be longer now. Then you could get a FL registration without the sales use tax penalty. I also have the boat documented but not registered in AK.
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Old 30-07-2012, 11:39   #8
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Re: Buying a Boat in Florida but Live in Alaska

An old thread but still an important topic. This is what I have learned recently about Florida (and Alaska). IANAL. Full text of Florida state statutes regarding vessel titling and registration here: Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine; and Alaska here: Chapter 70. Boat Registration.

An owner who buys a vessel in Florida has 30 days to register the vessel in Florida and must carry dated proof of ownership while using the vessel until it is registered.

Any foreign vessel brought to Florida and operated, used, or stored on Florida waters for more than 90 consecutive days must be registered in Florida.

A USCG documented vessel is exempt from titling but not from registration in Florida.

To avoid paying the Florida use tax on a vessel brought to Florida, have a bill of sale or USCG documentation showing that you have owned the vessel for longer than six months in another state or territory, but not in another country. Florida will reciprocate tax paid in specific states and territories but not in other countries.

An owner who buys a vessel in Florida from a dealer will pay sales tax on the entire purchase. An owner who buys a vessel from a non-dealer may use an itemized bill of sale to avoid paying sales tax on an outboard motor and accessories. Otherwise, tax is due on the entire, non-itemized amount. Get creative.

The owner of a vessel with a valid registration number from another state or territory may forgo being assigned FL registration numbers but must still notify and pay the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles the Florida registration fee before overstaying the 90-day reciprocity period. Florida use tax will also be collected if the owner has not owned the vessel for at least six months in another state or territory.

The Florida statute is specific about the 90-day reciprocity period being consecutive and within the boundary of Florida's waters. There is speculation about whether or not simply taking an overnight boat ride ten miles offshore will reset the 90-day consecutive period. I'm cautious about this idea because the Florida statute requires a reciprocally registered vessel to maintain the other state or territory's registration "in full force and effect." Alaska, for example, declares a "principal use" standard that prohibits a vessel from being registered in Alaska if it is not principally used in its waters. This standard could be enough to invalidate an Alaska registration if the vessel is principally used in Florida, and such invalidation would negate the reciprocity clause in Florida's statute and thus require the vessel to be registered in Florida within 30 days.

Ideally, anyone buying a vessel anywhere (Alaskan or other) should compare a state's sales and use taxes, registration fees, etc. with the cost of skirting those fees. Read the rules, and you may find that taking delivery elsewhere or creatively itemizing a bill of sale (anchor: $120,000; vessel: gift) is worth the effort.
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Old 31-07-2012, 06:53   #9
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Re: Buying a Boat in Florida but Live in Alaska

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianstanfill View Post
To avoid paying the Florida use tax on a vessel brought to Florida, have a bill of sale or USCG documentation showing that you have owned the vessel for longer than six months...
Good posting. I would add one additional note. To avoid paying Florida sales or use tax you must own AND USE the boat in another state for at least six months.

Florida has gone after people who they suspected of buying a boat in another state and simply storing it there for six months, in an attempt to avoid paying the Florida use tax. In these cases the people were required to prove--through things like gas receipts, marina bills, etc.--that they had actually been using the boat outside of Florida.

I don't think this will apply to the OP, since he seems to intend to buy the boat in Florida, move it out of the state, and probably not return for quite some time. Nonetheless, it is important for people to realize that they cannot buy a boat elsewhere, let it sit for six months, then bring it to Florida and expect to thereby avoid the use tax.
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