Revisiting Boat Taxes
DEATH AND TAXES are inevitable, they say, and when money gets tight in state-government coffers,
it’s almost equally inevitable that lawmakers look to raise taxes on perceived luxuries like boats. But a few states in recent
years have resisted the urge, recognizing
that what’s good for boating — healthy sales and services — can be good for a state’s
economy in the long run.
Last year Florida put a lid on sales taxes, stopping the levy on boats at $18,000, and in
Maine, as of last August 1, the effective sales-tax rate came down to two percent for nonresidents when they buy a boat — in Maine or elsewhere — and keep it in the state for more
than 30 days. Some lawmakers in Texas tried to follow suit when the House Ways and Means
Committee approved an $18,000 tax limit on the sale of a boat, reportedly based on the
Florida model. That measure didn’t pass, but back in New England, Connecticut boaters
faced a raft of tax issues earlier this spring. That’s because the governor’s budget included a
personal property tax on boats, the expansion of the state’s sales tax to include winter storage and yard work, as well as a luxury tax of seven percent on boats over $100,000.
While Connecticut boaters raised enough opposition to scuttle the personal property tax
as well as the sales tax expansion, the “luxury tax” became law in July. For new and used
boats $100,000 and under, the state’s existing 6. 35 percent sales tax still applies. All of that
could be good news for neighboring Rhode Island, home of many boatbuilding companies
and large repair yards. Boats in Rhode Island are exempt from personal property tax on boats
kept in the state and from sales tax. — R.L.
DID YOU KNOW? ON OCTOBER 9, 1852, THE LIGHTHOUSE BOARD, WHICH WOULD ADMINISTER THE U.S. LIGHTHOUSE SYSTEM, WAS ORGANIZED.
TO see PhOTOs from the 2011
international santa maria cup
and boatU.s.-sponsored ‘meet
The champions’ reception that
took place in annapolis, maryland, at the end of september,
go to www.boatUs.com/women
ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER — FOR TWO CENTURIES
This Oc TObeR maRks The 200Th anniveRsaRy of the first steam- boat to descend the Ohio and mississippi Rivers, from Pittsburgh to new
Orleans, and there’s still time to take in
one of more than a dozen celebrations,
symposia, and exhibits this fall in cities
and towns along those rivers and tributaries. The voyage of the side-wheel steamer
New Orleans changed american civilization, say organizers of the 2011 steamboat
bicentennial celebration, as well as the
lives of its passengers and crew. Departing
Pittsburgh October 20, 1811, four years after Robert Fulton’s Clermont proved steam-
14 | boatU.s. magazine
powered vessels practical and commercial-
ly successful, New Orleans “received gala
welcomes at every port,” according to the
Rivers institute at hanover college, which
is coordinating events.
namesake city on January 10, 1812.
Two momentous natural events attended its passage: the Great comet of
1811, and the new madrid earthquake that
hit December 16 along the mississippi in
what is now the state of missouri.
a highlight of commemorations this fall
will be “Full steam ahead,” a steamboat
symposium hosted by the indiana historical
society in indianapolis on October 20, to be
followed by a steamboat Family Day celebration on the 21st. an arrival reenactment
is planned in the Port of new Orleans on
January 10, 2012. For information: http://
rivers.hanover.edu/steamboat2011 — R.L.
“The New Orleans Steaming Upstream by Moonlight, 1811.” Painting by Gary R. Lucy.
OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2011