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Old 30-04-2004, 06:10   #1
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Florida regulations

I know that several of you have read my post on this topic elsewhere, but for those of you who have not, I want to pick your brains.

It is well established law that if you are not a Florida resident and you buy a boat in Florida, you are not subject to paying sales tax on the purchase if you (1) remove the boat from Florida waters within 90 days of purchase, and (2) keep the boat out of Florida waters for 180 days from the date you leave Florida.

What is not as well established but seems to be the general understanding is that going to the Bahamas from FLorida does not count toward your 180 day "out of Florida waters" time. I know that seems absurd, that the Bahamas is a separate country, etc. but the prevailing wisdom is that the Bahamas don't count.

Can anyone point me to a regulation, departmental rule, etc. showing in writing that this is the case (or not)?
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Old 30-04-2004, 06:33   #2
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Hi Harriet,

I hope you are enjoying that new Manta! You are correct according to the law. Look here...

http://www.myflorida.com/dor/taxes/sut_boat_owner.html

Scroll down under exemptions and look under "use tax".

Here is what it says...

Use tax will not be due on boats brought into Florida if all of the following conditions are met:

-The owner has owned the boat 6 months or longer.
-The purchaser showed no intent to use the boat in Florida at or before the time of purchase.
-The boat has been used 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.

It's that second one that gets me since I live in Florida.

Woody
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Old 30-04-2004, 08:48   #3
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Tried to get around that one to.
Then said screw it and just paid the sales tax.

Some guys try really hard to get away from paying, then get caugth and pay the tax plus some kind of penalty..

Helped a guy do a 4 day trip to the Bahamas last year to avoid paying.
It worked, but also because he had the boat registred in Germany after he bought it, but he still had to show proof that it left Florida within 90 days, hence the Bimini trip.
They accepted that, even after we sailed back to Florida and kept the boat here another 2 months.

There is something in the law however that ya can stay beyond the 90 days if ya are in a yard and spend money on the boat.
Otherwise the marinas and yards would complain as they loose the business.
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Old 01-05-2004, 20:45   #4
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Thanks, Woody. I think I finally understand the logic behind all this. The state wants to make sure that if Florida doesn't get the $$, some other state (not some foreign country) will.

As for the "intent" issue, I would suppose that could be determined by the home port displayed on the stern. What else might be used to determine intent?

Do you know what is involved in changing one's home port? I assume that if you change it before your boat is federally documented, then there shouldn't be a problem.
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Old 03-05-2004, 13:20   #5
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Yes, Intent does seem a bit fuzzy. I bought my boat in January. Due to the weather and my schedule, it won't be in Florida until June, and then I might instead keep it just over the border in Georgia, due to less expensive marina rates. I also understand Georgia does not have a tax on used boat sales.

My non-legal view is that if you are not a Florida resident you did not have intent to use the boat in Florida, if it is not listed as your home port on documentation, and you do not use it in Florida during the first six months. Where this gets fuzzy is when you see boats with Colorado listed as the homeport and they are sitting on a dock in Florida and they have never been to Colorado. They could have been on the move for several months prior to settling in Florda. Did they pay a use tax?

Anybody have any direct experience?

Woody
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Old 04-05-2004, 06:27   #6
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I lived aboard on a boat registered in Washington state in Florida for 2 years. The hailing port was Everett and I had WA reg stickers on the bow. Boat wan't documented.

I never was questioned. I always kept up the WA registration ($75/yr). The boat looked like a cruising boat (and was) and I changed slips twice (marina's choice, not mine).

I had paid sales tax in WA (8%!!!) so I could have registered in FL for cheap, but didn't want the hassle of re-registering in WA if I went back (I was afraid I'd have to pay sales tax or "use tax" again if I returned to WA.)

I think I could have made the case that I was a transient in FL and applied for dual registration as FL allows. Only if the water cops kept an eye on me would there have been a problem.

Changing a homeport on a non-documented boat is as easy as taking it off and putting on another - there is no federal or state requirement. For a documented boat, you've got to use a USCG form and send in $29. And if you have a loan on the boat, you've got to get their permission before the CG will allow a change.
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Old 27-10-2015, 07:01   #7
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Re: Florida regulations

just register in NC, then go Bahamas

QUOTE=Harriet;4095]I know that several of you have read my post on this topic elsewhere, but for those of you who have not, I want to pick your brains.

It is well established law that if you are not a Florida resident and you buy a boat in Florida, you are not subject to paying sales tax on the purchase if you (1) remove the boat from Florida waters within 90 days of purchase, and (2) keep the boat out of Florida waters for 180 days from the date you leave Florida.

What is not as well established but seems to be the general understanding is that going to the Bahamas from FLorida does not count toward your 180 day "out of Florida waters" time. I know that seems absurd, that the Bahamas is a separate country, etc. but the prevailing wisdom is that the Bahamas don't count.

Can anyone point me to a regulation, departmental rule, etc. showing in writing that this is the case (or not)?[/QUOTE]
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Old 27-10-2015, 11:14   #8
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Re: Florida regulations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet View Post
What else might be used to determine intent?
Receipts that prove that you used the boat elsewhere. That is a key point in the Florida law. You must own AND USE the boat in another U.S. jurisdiction for six months in order to avoid the Florida sales tax.

They are well familiar with the dodge that people used to try, where they would buy a boat in Florida, move it to some non-taxing jurisdiction, let it sit there for six months and a day, and then bring it back to Florida. Several have gotten caught trying this over the years, and now they will pretty routinely ask for some proof that you actually used the boat elsewhere.

Good luck.
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Old 27-10-2015, 12:22   #9
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Re: Florida regulations

While it's not exactly on point to the Bahamas/Florida question, in Massachusetts the six months changes the burden of proof around intent to use at the time of purchase.

If a Massachusetts resident brings a boat into the state during the first six months of ownership, the owner may have to prove that he did not have the intent to use it in the state when they bought it. As you'd expect, the state shows little humor about this challenge.

But if the boat arrives after the six months, the state has to prove the intent. This is really hard for the state unless the boat owner is stupid. In an actual case, a boat owner kept his new boat out of state for six months but when he bought the boat he registered and installed a new mooring for a boat of the same length in the Massachusetts harbor where he had a summer house. After six months, he brought the new boat into the state and put it on the mooring

The court made him pay sales tax and penalty
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Old 27-10-2015, 12:22   #10
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Re: Florida regulations

"and (2) keep the boat out of Florida waters for 180 days from the date you leave Florida."
People often make that mistake, when the law wants 180 days in another "taxing jurisdiction" within the US. Going to the Bahamas would indicate your were a Bahamian resident, or a sightseer, or something else beyond the ordinary "other state resident".


Simply taking the boat to and from a real "zero" tax jurisdiction, like Rhode Island, can cost a lot more than the sales tax would be. Unless, of course, you wanted to spend six months up north with the boat, and were going to make the long trip anyway.


And of course if you had a FL driver's license or homestead filing on record, you'd have to come up with a real good reason why you suddenly brought it back. The tax men pretty much have heard it all before.
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Old 27-10-2015, 12:35   #11
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Re: Florida regulations

Bought a boat in FL. Went to the Carribean. Never registered in any state. Brought it back and listed for sale for over a year in Fl. No problems.
That's all I know.
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Old 27-10-2015, 15:24   #12
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Florida regulations

Formed a Charter Boat LLC and bought and registered boat in FL under the LLC and thus paid no sales tax. Totally legal. Lender and vessel documentation company assisted. LLC cost under $300 to form. Should add its federally documented, rather than Florida but as long as I had the Tax Exempt Number I was covered during the purchase. Many people do this....


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