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Old 31-10-2014, 16:54   #1
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Angry Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

WARNING!

If you depart a marina in Los Angeles County to do some extended cruising, be sure to establish a new situs. (permanent legal location for property for taxes purposes)

I left Marina del Rey in October, 2013, headed to San Diego, then on to Baja with the Ha-"Ha fleet in November. The boat has been in Mexico ever since. I just received a bill for $1177.06 from the county of Los Angeles for tax year 2014. Calling the tax assessor's office, I sadly learned that since I had not established a new permanent home for the boat as on January 1, 2014 that I owed them the full amount of the 2014 tax bill even though the boat had not been in LA County since 2013.

Establishing a new situs would have involved signing a long term contract in a out of county marina, or changing the address on my USCG documentation. My documentation did not expire until later in the year, so I waited.

If your boat is registered in LA County or if your USCG Documentation mailing address is in LA County and you plan to do some extended cruising: CHANGE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS FOR YOUR USCG DOCUMENTATION BEFORE YOU GO!

Otherwise you will pay the county of Los Angeles for the pleasure of not being there!
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Old 31-10-2014, 17:35   #2
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

That really sux! I wonder where else in Cal. one has to be vigilant?
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Old 31-10-2014, 17:49   #3
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
That really sux! I wonder where else in Cal. one has to be vigilant?
Pretty much everywhere in the US that one pays annual taxes on boats. Certainly everywhere along the CA coast.

Many counties in CA go by what vessels are in the marinas on Jan 1st, but if they get your taxes for one year, they will also attempt to collect for the previous year and the following year. Results may vary on proving that you don't owe them. The interwebz are full of complaints, but we just faxed in our previous state's registration and the bill of lading for shipping the vessel over land.

I doubt that for most CA counties it would be sufficient to change your address before you go: they want proof that the boat was somewhere else. Did you offer to send in your Mexican TIP that showed your date of entry?
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Old 31-10-2014, 17:51   #4
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
That really sux! I wonder where else in Cal. one has to be vigilant?
Everywhere! LA County may be a little more aggressive about going after this than some, but it is a state level law they are enforcing, and the same applies throughout the state. There's another thread on this right now, and the law says it is where the boat is "habitually kept". If your documentation homeport is California (or you are state registered) you will have to rebut the presumption that the boat is "habitually kept" in California.
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Old 31-10-2014, 18:37   #5
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

The registered home port is in Florida. I explained that Marina del Rey was only a mailing address. He said that didn't matter. He (assessor supervisor) also said that the TIP was just that, "temporary", and a lot of people left to go cruising and get stuck the same way. What really gets me is that if you change the boat's situs after January 1, they can tag you for the whole year. Sounds criminal to me!
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Old 31-10-2014, 19:07   #6
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

My boat had a California hailing port when I purchased the boat in Florida, never even been to California and I received a tax bill . I sent them proof of moorage to show where the boat was and they stopped sending me bills.


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Old 31-10-2014, 20:45   #7
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

It has been that way forever. My brother got hit with the problem in 2001 and 2002. He sold his home in CA, moved to Washington, bought a boat there, sailed around Puget Sound for 6-months (back when that was legal), then sailed to Puerto Vallarta. He stopped in Chula Vista late July - early December 2000 to visit friends. His mailing address was in Washington State.

The boat was USCG documented - hailing port Seattle, WA.

BUT - he retained his California Drivers License till he got to Florida in spring 2002.

California (Riverside County) wanted boat property tax for 2000 (Washington and Mexico), 2001 (Mexico), 2002 (enroute to Florida). He obtained a Florida drivers license in 2002 and sold the boat in 2002.

He blew off the California Franchise Board demands for about $3,000 'cause he was never in California with the boat (except for 4-months July-November 2002).

When he tried to buy a house in Florida in 2003 he learned there was an outstanding tax bill due in California and the escrow company in Florida would not allow the closing to proceed till he cleared the California tax bill. I do not remember the legal terms used by California and the Escrow company but there was some kind of national lien or judgement that prevented him from buying a house anywhere in the US until California was paid off.

It is not fair - it is not just - but it is the California way.

You have to provide POSITIVE PROOF that you have established residence in another state, not just create a mailing address there or keep a boat there.

My brother sent the CA tax folks Passport images (Canada in 2000 and Mexico in 2001...etc), marina bills from Puget Sound and Mexico and California. But, as long as he had the California drivers license he was a California resident and owed California taxes - no matter where he lived or where the boat was.

Same thing happened with his retirement income. It was paid to him by a California company and California taxed it, no matter where he lived, UNTIL he bought a house in Florida, and obtained a Florida drivers license, and moved his investments to a local bank in Florida.
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Old 31-10-2014, 21:03   #8
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

I can tell you that this is nothing new, my parents went through the same thing with LA County in 1975. They never lived there, but the boat was on the docks in Long Beach after launching on the day that the tax men went through. Some things never change.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:08   #9
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

I live in Orange County and yes, California is aggressive on unsecured property taxes (boats). But the situation isn't as draconian as it's being made to seem in this thread.
There is an appeal process and it works if you use it. In the OP's case the burden is to prove when the boat left the jurisdiction and that it has not returned. Not hard to do with facts as described. Process is on LA County property tax website. BTW, OP's CF profile shows Marina del Rey as current location. Let's all maintain better records.


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Old 01-11-2014, 06:32   #10
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

This was a long time ago, but I sent in copies of the Ship's Log along with fuel bills and entrance paperwork to prove the boat was out of the state the entire year and still out. They dropped the bill.
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Old 02-11-2014, 06:30   #11
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

Similar thing happened to me with an airplane that I had in California for a month for repairs. Problem was they came after it 4 years after I sold the airplane. I had no records anymore of the plane being in another state.
Fortunately the bird was in a corporate entity and I had dissolved it. So there was nothing for them to collect on.
Another time I was assessed for an airplane that was owned by someone in New Jersey and had been for 20 years. The tax collector's office would not accept the FAA aircraft registry as proof that I had never owned the airplane.
They said the airport administration claimed I had a tiedown contract for the airplane. It was all clerical error at the airport.
Took me almost a year to straighten it out.
Of course, if you rent a slip, you have to pay property tax on your lease rights.. But that is another story and would drift from this thread.


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Old 02-11-2014, 06:35   #12
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

That's a little different than my experience with SF. We left in the HaHa with you and were hounded by SF. However, they let us go by proving just that the boat was out of SF for a year. We did this with boat check-in papers and marina receipts but had not situs. We did change our address to Fla before we left and this may make a difference.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:03   #13
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

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Originally Posted by dohenyboy View Post

Of course, if you rent a slip, you have to pay property tax on your lease rights.. But that is another story and would drift from this thread.
So, if I read you right your saying, if a visitor from another State rents a slip for a few months, they have to pay CA property tax even though they have no address in CA?
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:15   #14
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

I'm only surprised that the OP was surprised.

If you document or register the home port of your vessel ANYWHERE, that establishes a presumption that your boat is in fact home ported in that location and therefore you and it and presumed to be fair game for the tax men there.

Duh? You've informed "the state" that your boat is operating from that location, why should it be a surprise when a tax bill follows?

And if you carry insurance, remember that may also be charged according to what your home waters are and what range you are sailing in. Leave the home port on your paperwork as "x" and relocate to "y", and guess what? Your insurer has a right to deny claims and coverage as well.

Really guys, it ain't 1950 any more. Ain't hard to file paperwork changes, either.
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Old 02-11-2014, 12:27   #15
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Re: Los Angeles County Cruisers Beware!

"If you document or register the home port of your vessel ANYWHERE, that establishes a presumption that your boat is in fact home ported in that location and therefore you and it and presumed to be fair game for the tax men there.

Duh? You've informed "the state" that your boat is operating from that location, why should it be a surprise when a tax bill follows?"


My brothers boat was purchased in Washington State and had a hailing port in Seattle. The ONLY time it was in California was a "boat maintenance" layover from late July to early December. My brothers mailing address was Washington State. He did not live in California from spring 1999 until NEVER.

Yet he had to pay Riverside property tax on his boat because he did not change his drivers license until he moved to his new permanent home. And, he had to pay CA income tax because the company he had worked for was headquartered in California.

He paid over $2,500 a year tax on the boat and income while not living in California.

All because he had been a California resident 1971 - 1999 and he could not prove to the Franchise boards satisfaction that he had move to another state or country. He was in transient from spring '99 until he decided to purchase a home in Florida in '03 and thus could not prove to California he had truly moved to another location.

That is the California way!
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