I have a sailboat that I purchased in Florida and sailed up to RI last year where I moored her. She is documented.
If I move the boat next summer to MA, will the state ask me to pay sales tax? I need not register her in MA (exempt as a documented vessel), so what if anything would trigger a requirement to pay sales tax?
Appreciate any insights...
This is a good one, best of luck. I've been there myself.
I believe if you bring the boat into MA for 60 or more days, if and when MA finds that out, MA will say the use tax is due. If you can prove, conclusively by reference to contemporary documents and records, that the boat was not in the state for 60 days, you may be able to have the tax claim released. If you can't make that proof, you will need to pay the tax.
If you bring the boat into Massachusetts (MA) for 60 days, you would owe the use tax.
Should you not submit the use tax on/about the day you bring the boat to MA, when MA finds out the boat is/was in MA. MA will demand the use tax plus penalties and interest going back to the day that you purchased the boat. For anytime since your purchase date that you can conclusively prove the boat was not in MA, MA may forgo the penalty and interest for that period.
Now a key question - were you a resident of MA when you purchased the boat in Florida?
If you were, then I believe when you pay the MA use tax on bringing the boat into MA, MA will assess penalties and interest back to the date of purchase. I am not sure whether you can get out of the penalties and interest even if you can prove the boat was not in MA until the time you submitted payment, you would have to see a good tax accountant on this. Note most accountants dont know squat about boat matters...
So in net, if you are a MA resident, the question is not whether to pay the use tax, the question is the penalties and interest. MA assumes you are guilty and owe everything, only subject to your proving otherwise...