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Old 24-04-2012, 17:25   #1
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I have seached and read many threads about where to buy a boat and pay the least amount of taxes (if any). They never answer the question before people get off on tangents.

I am about to buy a 41' sailboat located in SC.
I am willing to call any state home that has good storm protection.
I will be storing it either in the islands or "home state" during the hurricane season. On the hard.
I will be sailing it extensively the rest of the year or living on it in the islands.

My residence is Alaska. I rarely go there except for a few months in the summer to catch my yearly abundance of salmon and halibut. The state has no sales tax but I do not want to lie because the boat will probably never see Alaska except once.

What state should I base the boat to avoid hurricanes and taxes?
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Old 24-04-2012, 17:41   #2
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Re: Taxes???

cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 25-04-2012, 05:33   #3
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Re: Taxes???

If you only want a short and easy answer then Delaware, as Bash says, is probably as good as anywhere. But that doesn't really tell you much, it won't work for all situations, and you might end up paying taxes (or getting hit by a hurricane) that you didn't expect.

The truth is that these questions have been answered many times. Yes, people go off on tangents, but if you read through the threads, the answers are there. In the end it really depends on a lot of variables, and there is no one, simple, complete answer. You have to weigh the pros and cons, and figure out what works best for you.
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Old 25-04-2012, 05:50   #4
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Re: Taxes???

BoatUS has information on state registration and taxing here... Government Affairs

If you click on the "State and Regional" button to the left of the page of this link, you'll find additional information.

Some states have personal property taxes which might apply. You'll have to research that separately.
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Old 25-04-2012, 05:59   #5
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Re: Taxes???

You could document it using AK as the home port and just pay for state permits to keep it where ever you want it.

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Old 25-04-2012, 06:52   #6
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Re: Taxes???

As has been said Delaware is a good place to have as your home port since they don't have sales tax or personal property tax on boats. However, if you have a legal residence or physically keep the boat in another state, you might have to pay taxes to them.

If you document your boat in DE, the USCG will send a list of boats whose owners list AK as their mailing address. So your home state will then pursue you for whatever taxes accrue to you as a resident of AK. If you physically keep your boat in say MD (or most other states), they will likely also come after you for personal property tax if appplicable. FYI the state revenue people walk marina docks looking for boats they can tax. Also as you may have read, documenting a boat with the USCG does not release you from whatever state taxes/fees you may owe.

The good news is that all (AFAIK) states will forgive what you owe them if you can prove you paid that tax in another state. The trick is to find the combination of legal residence/boat location/documentation/state registration vs. sales and use tax/property tax that minimizes your total outlay. It can be complicated and you have to do your homework. It all depends on your individual situation. Keep searching here and check out your proposed states' boat registration/tax laws.

I'm not an expert but I have gone through this a few times with different boats. BTW, SC just informed me that they have put a tax lien on a boat that I sold almost 2 years ago because I haven't paid my personal property taxes on it. So they can be persistent...

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Old 25-04-2012, 13:47   #7

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Re: Taxes???

I'd beware of the BOATUS web site, it looks like they sent out a form letter and didn't actually research the laws. For example they say of New York:
"Registration Grace Period (Days): 90 days"

And that's true. What they have totally missed, is that NYS requires registration only for vessels that are in the navigable waters of NYS for more than 90 days in a row. If you cross the bay to NJ or the Sound to LI, your 90 days starts anew. If you haul the boat out of the water to paint the bottom, your 90 days starts anew.

That's in direct contrast to some states like Florida, where the clock counts how many days you are in the state during one year. No restarts and IIRC hauling isn't counted either. (Could be one calendar year or simply 365 days, I don't recall.)

So BOATUS...a good start, like the SC note of a maximum tax of $300. Although I didn't see any note there that annual personal property tax would also accrue. (Ah, Caesar. Any Caesar, every Caesar, they all get their due, one way or another.)

But someone at BOATUS needs to go on the web and do a little more research to fill in the blanks.
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Old 26-04-2012, 05:41   #8
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Re: Taxes???

Being a resident of Alaska and the fact it doesn't have a sales tax obviously you don't have to worry they will come after you for a sales tax. Document your boat using your Alaska address. Besides Delaware, Rhode Island also has no tax so you can keep it there. As you're cruising keep watch of time spent in other states. Maryland doesn't have property tax but has a 90 day limit, I believe.

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