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Thread: Boat Taxes in your state

  1. #1
    Administrator Zilpo55's Avatar
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    Boat Taxes in your state

    I would like to ask, what taxes (if any) are assessed on houseboats in your state?

    Boat taxes have become a hot topic again here in Kentucky. Background: the state and local counties assess annual property taxes on all registered boats, based on book value. The registration sticker on the bow is visual proof that taxes have been paid on each boat. Owners of USCG documented boats are required to file a form each May, then a tax bill is sent in November the same time as landowner bills are sent.

    The problem is there is no way authorities can easily confirm taxes have been paid on a documented boat. It is estimated that less than one-third of boat owners comply with this "honor system".

    There is currently a bill in the KY House that would require a sticker, same as registered boats. This is drawing howls of protest, especially from out-of-state boat owners.

    People claim that most other states do not tax boats annually. Is this true?

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    None here love my Tennessee. Gonna be selling my HB in a year or two and will sell the slip..just not ready yet (been saying this for years lol).

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    Senior Member Bamby's Avatar
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    In WV where my residence is, yes boats are recognized as personal property and assessed and taxed yearly.

    In Oh where I utilize my boat there is no personal property taxes on boats. Just the reoccurring boat registration fee must be maintained.
    Since my boat has to be legally registered in OH since it lives more than six months out of the year there it is thereby WV tax exempt.
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    In most states, when you pay state taxes on a documented vessel, the state gives you the annual decal to put on the boat. That's the same annual decal you see next to the number on registered boats. That way an LEO can tell at a glance if you have paid your taxes. Below is what the decal looks like in Kentucky. On a documented boat you would not see any registration numbers, just the decal.

    Peter D. EIkenberry
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    Administrator Zilpo55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    Below is what the decal looks like in Kentucky. On a documented boat you would not see any registration numbers, just the decal.

    I think this is a good proposal. Those who are ducking the taxes are quite upset about it.

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    Moderator BananaTom's Avatar
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    In Florida, we have to get the Decal Sticker once a year, on documented vessels.
    Just as indicated above in Kentucky

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    Looked up the rules on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife site. You're right. No mention of a decal for documented vessels, just registered vessels. https://fw.ky.gov/fishboatguide/Pages/Boating.aspx#2 I''l see if I can't find the tax rules. Obviously it's handled by a different department. Left hand not talking to the right.

    By the way, have you seen this article. https://www.houseboatmagazine.com/20...nt-in-kentucky its an old article but I imagine it is still relevant.

    The article makes it pretty clear the Documented vessels are taxed differently than registered vessels. And somehow that works out to the advantage of the documented vessel owners. No wonder they are complaining. If the law is changed they will be taxed at the same rate as registered vessel owners.
    Last edited by Ike; 03-29-2020 at 05:52 PM.
    Peter D. EIkenberry
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    Administrator Zilpo55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    Looked up the rules on the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife site. You're right. No mention of a decal for documented vessels, just registered vessels. https://fw.ky.gov/fishboatguide/Pages/Boating.aspx#2 I''l see if I can't find the tax rules. Obviously it's handled by a different department. Left hand not talking to the right.

    By the way, have you seen this article. https://www.houseboatmagazine.com/20...nt-in-kentucky its an old article but I imagine it is still relevant.

    The article makes it pretty clear the Documented vessels are taxed differently than registered vessels. And somehow that works out to the advantage of the documented vessel owners. No wonder they are complaining. If the law is changed they will be taxed at the same rate as registered vessel owners.
    The Houseboat Magazine article is still relevant because the legislation is still active, although it may not get a vote this session. The headline and story are inaccurate and misleading, same as the local newspaper story it was based on. True, the state tax rate on documented boats is 1/30th of that for registered boats, but state tax is only one of eight line items on a property tax bill. Taxes for county, schools, library, ambulance, etc. are still at the full county rates. (I assume the "special" rate was set back when the houseboat manufacturing industry was booming back in the mid-eighties through the Great Recession). Using myself as an example, this would make about $550 difference on an $1800 total bill. Yes it is a nice discount, but not 3000% as the article implies. I could argue that the discount is justified, but that is not the point I want to make.

    More than the tax rate, the focus needs to be on compliance. It is literally an honor system in Kentucky. I firmly believe that less than half of the documented boats on our lake are taxed at all. The counties bordering our lake are relatively poor and could certainly use the money. I would feel better about sending in that check if I knew that all my neighbors were paying too.
    Last edited by Zilpo55; 03-31-2020 at 09:17 AM.

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    So, get in touch with your representative in the state legislature and propose that they amend the law to say that when someone does pay their tax on a documented boat, they give them a decal to display next to the boats name or document number. Somewhere visible to LEOs . That way you will know who has paid and who hasn't. It won't cost the state much because they already do it for registered boats and the number of documented vessels has to be a small percentage of the vessels in the state.
    Peter D. EIkenberry
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  10. #10
    Administrator Zilpo55's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ike View Post
    So, get in touch with your representative in the state legislature and propose that they amend the law to say that when someone does pay their tax on a documented boat, they give them a decal to display next to the boats name or document number. Somewhere visible to LEOs . That way you will know who has paid and who hasn't. It won't cost the state much because they already do it for registered boats and the number of documented vessels has to be a small percentage of the vessels in the state.
    Ike, it looks like our legislature is actually moving that direction! House bill 418 was introduced this session that will require the USCG ID number to be displayed with the same registration sticker that registered boats use. It will only cost 6 bucks to register, plus proof of property taxes. It sounds like a straightforward and fair solution to the problem. The state association of PVAs is firmly behind the bill. I hope it eventually gets out of committee and passed when things get back to "normal".

    The bill:
    https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/20rs/hb418.html

    This news article from February 2020 explains it well:
    https://www.kentucky.com/news/politi...UpMJ5e3bB3al48

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