Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 19 Old 11-14-2015 Thread Starter
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Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

Newbie with life experience, wants to know...

Are there low cost (fees/taxes) states that it would be better to register in than some?
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post #2 of 19 Old 11-15-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

First, you have no choice but to register the boat in the State it's actually in. They all have rules that exempt you, if you're visiting for a short period. However, more than about a month and most require registration. Don't ever try to fake the system, but just claiming you're somewhere that you're not. John Kerry tried that last year and got caught. I understand Mass marinas are required to report long stay vessels and I've heard other States send inspector around to see who might owe them money.

If you have more than one State in which you are considering keeping your boat, let us know and some may know how to point you to the information you require.

You should also familiarize yourself with sales tax and use tax laws, in these competing States, as once you keep the boat there, these become factors too.

As general feedback, Rhode Island has no sales or use tax on boats. They do require you to register your boat and pay a bienniel fee. It starts as low as $32 every two years for boats up to 15 ft and climbs for 5ft of length, until you get to boats over 50ft paying $620 every two years. However, your boat better actually be here, if you try to avoid the sales tax.


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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

All good information.

I don't want to 'game' the system, just trying to find out if there is a list or table that rates the states, or nations for fees. But I am coming to the realization that I will probably have to do it myself. There is no free lunch, but there might be specials for the taking if one looks.
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post #4 of 19 Old 11-15-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

I've never heard of any particularly good deals among state tax and registration laws. I'll ditto Minnewaska's advice, but add to that my suggestion that you keep all documents on the boat that show when you paid sales or use taxes, the state to which you paid them, and when you paid them. Also, keep documents showing how much you paid for the boat. If you cruise out of state, agents of that state are likely to demand that you pay use taxes to that state. The amount that you will be required to pay them will usually be set off (reduced) against any taxes that you paid to your home state. If you can't prove all that, you'll have to pay the whole tax.
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post #5 of 19 Old 11-15-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

I think there is an advantage... but 1) I don't know what they are.. and I am just talking off the cuff here

and 2) you have to have some property in each state to do so....

but going back to what Minnewaska said.. you can get caught...



some of the things to consider.. under a certain size in NYS, if you don't have a motor, you don't have to register it at all... of course if you are using your boat in another state, without resgistration, you could have problems.

My insurance company (in NYS) does not require a rider, but puts the boat on my home insurance, I am not sure what it is, but I seem to remember 20 ft. and under

What ever the advantages are... there will be problems with it. Say you live in NYS, but have a cottage in Connecticut, there may be a tax advantage, but you will have to get your mail at that cottage. maybe even claim that is your permanent address.

I do wonder about if I was to take my DC 15 (with no registration numbers on the hull) to another state. Where I live there isn't much coast guard supervision....so I have never been stopped... but it would be clear to them I don't have a motor...

+++++++++++++++++++

An unrelated story: There was a guy who had a truck in Ohio, that he brought up from Texas... He lived in Ohio, but kept the TX license on the truck and every year painted a new year on the plate....

A sleazy way to save money, until you are pulled over for speeding, then it probably becomes a stupid... expensive one.

The same might be true for skirting the issue with your boat.


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post #6 of 19 Old 11-16-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

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.....Say you live in NYS, but have a cottage in Connecticut, there may be a tax advantage, but you will have to get your mail at that cottage. maybe even claim that is your permanent address......
I'm not sure what you're suggesting here, but it sure smells like fraud.

This just can't be done anymore. The first thing the State's ask for are your cell phone, debit and credit card data, when they sniff out this kind of fraud. Your actual permanent residence is easily determined now.

Then it goes from a tax error to tax evasion, because they can now prove you did this intentionally. That's a crime. They love to find a crime, because you'll wet your pants and pay anything they ask for. That is, if they don't intend to make an example of you and put you in jail.


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post #7 of 19 Old 11-16-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

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I'm not sure what you're suggesting here, but it sure smells like fraud.

This just can't be done anymore. The first thing the State's ask for are your cell phone, debit and credit card data, when they sniff out this kind of fraud. Your actual permanent residence is easily determined now.

Then it goes from a tax error to tax evasion, because they can now prove you did this intentionally. That's a crime. They love to find a crime, because you'll wet your pants and pay anything they ask for. That is, if they don't intend to make an example of you and put you in jail.
Actually what I am saying is what you are saying.

If you live in two states and your boat is going to be in one --- a cottage --- you should register it in that state. But I think there would be financial advantages to the 'fraud' . Though I don't think you should do that.


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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

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Actually what I am saying is what you are saying.

If you live in two states and your boat is going to be in one --- a cottage --- you should register it in that state. But I think there would be financial advantages to the 'fraud' . Though I don't think you should do that.
If you live in one state, but keep your boat in another, you do pay all taxes in the state where your boat actually is. No fraud there, whatsoever.

Your home state will often find you own the boat, because that's the address that is likely on some form, such as USCG documentation. They just assume you actually have the boat in their state. Provide all the bill of sale, marina reciepts, etc that prove it's elsewhere and they go away. btdt

More than half the boats in our marina in RI are owned by out of state residents. Several out of country. They are no doubt here, because they will not need to pay their home state/country's taxes. RI gets the economic benefit of all their boat bucks instead. Tax competition is good!


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post #9 of 19 Old 11-16-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

Registration and documentation are different.
If boat has berths,a marine sanitation device,a way to cook, a way to move its likely you can document it. This is federal not state. If you intend to visit others countries it's much easier with a documented boat. It's also harder to steal a documented boat as they are easier to trace.
With a documented vessel you can usually stay in others states briefly. You state you are "in transit ". How long you can stay varies state by state before you are considered resident and subject to tax. Length of allowed stay may also vary depending if boat is wet or on hard for service in some places.
Most cruising boats are documented vessels even if they also have state registration. Many loan generators and insurance companies require documentation.
Often people document cruising vessels in favorable tax countries such as Marshall Islands which is why you see " not for sale while in US waters" on ads.
Hope that helps.

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post #10 of 19 Old 11-16-2015
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Re: Any advantage/disadvantage to registering a boat in a particular state?

As outbound points out, there is a difference between state registration and federal documentation. Regardless of that, though, a lot of states will require you to register the boat even if it is federally documented. And trying to choose a state to register the boat in misses the point. Put the boat where you will use it. Wherever it is, THERE is where you have to register it.

Keeping the boat somewhere that you're not going to use it, just to avoid a few dollars in registration fees, is just dumb. Of course, if you are trying to choose between a couple of spots, and your use would be equal in all, then checking into registration costs makes some sense. But that's the only case.
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