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Old 05-08-2013, 08:32   #1
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Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

Hello All,

This is my 2nd post here. If all works out I am contemplating a complete life change and moving onto a boat in the next year. Not so much in need of tips on how to live on the water, but looking for the quick and dirty about where to register (US) considering my current residence and multi state income sources. Bear with me as I explain. I currently do work in Florida and Northern Virginia. For the first year or so I would probably keep the boat (30'+ sail) in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, but If I found the right boat in FL, keeping it near St. Pete would be an option also. Eventually I am hoping to semi retire and try to spend as much time sailing the Gulf and Caribbean when I feel I have got my skills up to it. I'm currently a Florida resident, but elderly parents have me in Virginia a lot lately. So I looked into it a tad bit and it looks like Virginia has some good rates (better than FL at first look) on registering and taxes. But I'm pretty certain I won't keep it in Virginia at all since there is no good sailing close to where I live when there. The Bay is not too far a drive though, and good sailing.

So now the question. Where is the best Home Port/Registration location based on my odd living and working arrangements? Would Maryland require me to become a resident if its there? Virginia seems to allow me to title it but not require me to register it if I keep it in another state and appears to have great tax rates. So then what? The website wasn't clear about options (and why would they since it doesn't serve them to point my tax revenue elsewhere). The more I look, the more questions I have, and I figure someone here has some experience that they might help boil it down and point me in the right direction without confusing myself with conflicting info from multiple jurisdictions. My preference would be to get a boat in the Mid-Atlantic area based on a good selection I've seen, and keeping it in MD. I'd also like to keep my Florida residency for now if possible. What is doable? Is there some better option with tax benefits as I have no idea about what is doable? Not looking to be a tax cheat, just hoping for insight on the best option based on what I'm legally able to do.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:23   #2
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re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

Where would you USE the boat? That's were you should keep it, and where you keep it is where you are going to have to register it.

It makes no sense (at least, not to me) to spend all the money to buy a boat and then put it someplace where it will be inconvenient to use it, just because you hope to avoid a few percentage points of sales tax.
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:31   #3
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Sorry, thought I covered that. I would use it on the Chesapeake Bay for the first year most likely, thus the reason to keep it there. But I have two other residency options. Plus, I thought you can register a boat outside the country you live in if you were so inclined (had some reason I don't know of). I would use it to live on also, but where I live in Virginia is near the Potomac river which is too restrictive for sailing a decent sized boat. I assumed that there would be some type of local registration where I keep it, but keep in mind I will eventually move it to Florida (possibly even the Caribbean eventually) and I know that it can be titled in a state other than the place I keep it. For instance, I recall seeing a boat with a home port on the tail end under the name being Tulsa, Oklahoma when the boat was in the Virgin Islands. Never dealt with this issue, and it will go towards figuring yearly operating budget figures.

Thanks
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:38   #4
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

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Sorry, thought I covered that. I would use it on the Chesapeake Bay for the first year most likely, thus the reason to keep it there. But I have two other residency options. Plus, I thought you can register a boat outside the country you live in if you were so inclined (had some reason I don't know of). I would use it to live on also, but where I live in Virginia is near the Potomac river which is too restrictive for sailing a decent sized boat. I assumed that there would be some type of local registration where I keep it, but keep in mind I will eventually move it to Florida (possibly even the Caribbean eventually) and I know that it can be titled in a state other than the place I keep it. For instance, I recall seeing a boat with a home port on the tail end under the name being Tulsa, Oklahoma when the boat was in the Virgin Islands. Never dealt with this issue, and it will go towards figuring yearly operating budget figures.

Thanks
Don't visit Alameda, California expecting to escape the tax authorities there. And, when they assess your boat moored in a marina don't expect your defence that the boat is registered out of state to save you the expense. It won't

This is always a possibility when away from your home base.

Just saying.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:22   #5
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Not looking to dodge lawful taxes where the boat is mored. Just don't want to give up my Florida residency just to title it, and would like to do it somewhere I do reside or plan to reside that has the best rate for titling fees and sales tax.
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Old 05-08-2013, 12:28   #6
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

We lived in Northern Virginia for years and kept our boat in Annapolis where she was registered. Boats over 30 years old can be registered in Florida for $8 per year.
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Old 05-08-2013, 13:21   #7
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Not looking to go that old on the boat. Current VA 3 year registration is $37 for 20-40' boat. %2 sales tax with $2000 maximum tax and $0.01 on every $100 in value for property taxes. So for say a $100k boat, $2067 for first 3 year outlay in ALL "taxes and fees". Pretty good actually, but as I stated, no place to keep the boat where I can easily use it in VA. FL is much higher and more complicated to figure and I don't plan to keep it there for at least a year or more anyway. So, what is my best titling option if I plan to keep it somewhere that will probably not be a primary residence and probably not even in the state I can hopefully legally title it in?
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Old 05-08-2013, 15:13   #8
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

Santan, y'all just going to get yourself arrested venue-shopping that way. Boats, just like cars, typically MUST be titled and registered in a state if they are located or operated in that state for 90 days in a row. Sometimes, 181 days. But each state has teir own laws, and your best bet is to just go online, look at the tax department and the motor vehicle department for each of the three states, and see what each requires. And that applies to sales tax and use tax and property tax as well.

As to your residency, each state has laws defining that, but the address you put on your federal income tax return may trump them all. Voting rights, jury duty, homestead deduction on a house, all will swing with that. Register the boat in Florida, and you may have some extra issues about insuring it or moving it during hurricane season as well.

And if you do literally title the boat out of country, that's a whole other kettle of fish, You'll need a cruising permit, which is discretionary not a right, to bring it in, and that runs one year at a time, and the boat has to be out of US waters for about two weeks in between each renewal request.

By all means be creative--but if you do, make sure you check with the state sources to make sure you don't get arrested.
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Old 05-08-2013, 15:59   #9
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

I think you'd want to get it CG Registered. I know in MA at least, this eliminates the registration fee every other year and you would just need to get a sticker to place on the boat. Not exactly sure how it works in other areas which is what you'd need to look in to. Likely you will need to have it registered where you keep it, but you may be able to avoid the fees like you could in MA. Taxes are a whole different story and you'd probably need to do some looking into that, it seems every state wants to get whatever it can.
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Old 05-08-2013, 16:39   #10
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

I would register it in Florida and just visit Virginia. Maintain a PO box in a post office or use a friends address for your registration and go paperless on all your bills going to an email address. Where you live from day to day is no ones business but your own.

I was a Florida resident for 3 years and lived out of State and out of Country, one of those places I lived was VA and would have to say I am glad I did not pay taxes there. I did buy and register a car in Virginia for 6 months, what a pain that was, of course that was the early 90s but if I had it to do over I would have gone to Florida and bought the car and drove it back.

The $8 thing is true here in here in Florida, I just did my registration last week. You can buy a a boat anywhere as long at it has a title and register it in Florida then get insurance with a quote for one of the local marinas down here and go were you want.

You could always bounce between states every month or so up there if you are worried about the Taxman and legalities. A month in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, DC, North Carolina etc..
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Old 05-08-2013, 17:05   #11
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

Based on my research and experience buying a boat as a multi state resident, Hello Sailor has the best advise so far.

The majority if not all, the states on the east coast will go after you for sales tax and registration if you keep the boat in that state. Typical example, FL even if you have no residence in the state, if you buy a boat there you have 90 days to remove it from the state or be subject to FL sales tax and registration. Pretty much the same everywhere.

So keep that in mind when and where you buy the boat. If you find a deal in FL but plan to keep the boat in VA be prepared to deal with FL rules. The one bright spot, as far as I know all the states also give you credit for sales tax paid on the boat in another state. So if you buy a boat in FL and have to pay 6% tax, if you move it to another state with 7% you will only have to pay the difference.

HOWEVER!!!!! If you plan on cruising outside the US then you should do a US Coast Guard registration which is correctly know as documentation. State registration is not very official once you get outside the US and you will need the USCG Documentation.
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Old 05-08-2013, 17:08   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Santan, y'all just going to get yourself arrested venue-shopping that way. Boats, just like cars, typically MUST be titled and registered in a state if they are located or operated in that state for 90 days in a row. Sometimes, 181 days. But each state has teir own laws, and your best bet is to just go online, look at the tax department and the motor vehicle department for each of the three states, and see what each requires. And that applies to sales tax and use tax and property tax as well.

As to your residency, each state has laws defining that, but the address you put on your federal income tax return may trump them all. Voting rights, jury duty, homestead deduction on a house, all will swing with that. Register the boat in Florida, and you may have some extra issues about insuring it or moving it during hurricane season as well.

And if you do literally title the boat out of country, that's a whole other kettle of fish, You'll need a cruising permit, which is discretionary not a right, to bring it in, and that runs one year at a time, and the boat has to be out of US waters for about two weeks in between each renewal request.

By all means be creative--but if you do, make sure you check with the state sources to make sure you don't get arrested.
Well, yes I'm shopping, but I have legitimate claims to two states and a desire for a third. "Why not to" is as good advice as "why to". I've clearly stated that I'm not trying to avoid legitimate taxes in the area I keep the boat. But I've also pointed out that there are some advantages and disadvantages to two states, and i dont want to pay an unnecessary duplicate tax. One thing I have NOT FOUND glancing at rules for any of my first three choices is a requirement that I MUST title it in any if them. Some sort of user fee or registration APPEARS TO BE A MUST. OK, so potentially there is someone here with experience with the pros and cons from the three states plus surrounding states and has a similar situation to share. Legally I seem to be on track to spend a majority of time in FL this year which does establish my residency and income tax status, regardless of where I keep a boat.

That said, thank you, you have provided info that steers me away from foreign registry.
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Old 05-08-2013, 17:18   #13
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Thank you Maytrix, Garbone and Skipmac,

Good points for me to pursue. Have read further and appears CG registry is option in all states. Determining all sales tax/user fee that must be paid and what gets credited as boat is moved to eventual home port is what is the grey area.
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Old 05-08-2013, 17:40   #14
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Re: Newbie Has Questions About Living Abord And Initial Home Porting/Registering

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Thank you Maytrix, Garbone and Skipmac,

Good points for me to pursue. Have read further and appears CG registry is option in all states. Determining all sales tax/user fee that must be paid and what gets credited as boat is moved to eventual home port is what is the grey area.
To avoid confusion the correct terminology is USCG documented.

Regarding fees, 99% certain the only state on the eastern seaboard without sales tax is RI. As far as I know all other states will charge at least some sales tax. Some states do put a cap on the maximum sales tax you might owe but usually it's a very high figure.

Not certain about all states giving credit for sales tax paid in another state but it is the common protocol.

Other than that all states will require you register the boat (not title) in that state if it stays in that state. That fee varies a lot from state to state and that you will have to research.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:13   #15
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At this point, Virginia is looking like best place to register the boat nearest the areas I will be working in. And since that will be required wherever it is moored, I think now I'm going to look and see if there is a suitable deep water slip in VA with quick access to the Chesapeake Bay that is not too far a drive from the DC Metro area.
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