I agree that registering is a very modest fee for almost all states. So I'll bring up the "elephant in the room," which is the fact that a disturbingly large number of boaters (mostly power, but also many sail) use USCG documentation as a way to evade paying sales, use, or excise taxes on their boats. Living about 10 miles from the Delaware border, I see a shockingly large number of boats with Delaware hailing ports, and also lots of boats that are too small to document that are registered in Delaware. A number of owners have openly bragged to me that they never take their boats into Delaware, and use the Delaware scam to avoid paying sales/use/excise taxes at all.
So for those boaters, registration would be very costly because of the taxes that go along with with it.
All those little 'modest fees and taxes' do tend to add up in federal/state/county/local venues to an 'unbelievable' total.
In Pennsylvania, as with similarly grossly over-taxed states, one must understand that when one's total and combined taxes, plus pass-along taxes (from purchases, etc.), approaches 2/3rd's of one's income, people tend to resort to the black/underground market and outright/overt illegality.
Although not the worst in total tax coercion, Pennsylvania's (plus federal/county/local) massive combined and hidden pass-along taxes (from goods and services purchased) ... is now approaching/impending towards 60-65% of an average family's income. Many many of the Pennsylvanians who live near any other state border and to save what income that is not already diverted to TAXES, will do their shopping for large (but carryable) ticket items; buy their automotive fuels, liquor, tobacco, etc. etc. in the bordering states that have significant
tax advantages to do so. To enjoy "boating" is no different. Pennsylvania will probably soon become similar to already severely de-populated ('upstate') New York and other ravenous TAX-hungry (utterly decaying 'rust-belt', etc.) states.
This whole thread exemplifies how the various states that are approaching bankruptcy/insolvency due to malfeasance, misfeasance, graft, corruption, revenue fund transfer to special interests, etc. etc. - tend to 'squeeze
' any and all
possible tax revenue out of its citizens (aka: indentured tax serfs), as all a state has to do is cheaply pass a law, require yet one more modest fee 'registration', etc. etc. etc.
When the average person pays more of income for taxes including 'hidden and pass-along taxes' than one keeps for themselves, who can morally blame those who take advantages of the grey-market and other illegality to keep themselves satisfied and 'afloat'.
Also dont forget that currently ~40
% of all workforce aged citizens in this country are NOT in the 'workforce', and still must pay their 'fair share'.