A boat is sold and the new owner turns the keys and takes off to wherever. The registration... and actually payment of the taxes due falls to the buyer... so dealer says with a smile.. register the boat when you figure out where.... Oh and pay the applicable taxes.
Buyer says... I'm not sticking around in the States I am going to be a boat bum in Grenada... But I may document it. AH you need a US mailing address for that. Cool... I got one for a while. So off he putt putts... documents his boat and decides to ignore the registration and use the tax money to fit the boat out for the passage.
If the deal has not reported the sale... or the private seller... the state has no one to "go after" for their taxes... the one where the boat was sold...
The sales tax is often not even due for that example. Not necessarily triggered by where the sale takes place,
only if the boat is sticking around, that is the usual standard applied.
99% of the time no "dealer" is involved, but when they are they do have requirements and the correct knowledge.
> why would the new owner's state have any knowledge that one of its residents bought an expensive boat? They wouldn't unless the seller reported to the buyer's state... and they likely wouldn't.
Again, where the buyer resides is pretty irrelevant, where **the boat** stays in the years after the purchase, that is critical.
> But why would a marina become a reporting service for their state's tax department? Is there a law mandating this somehow? Clearly you don't have to have a boat registered to use it... or am I misunderstanding something?
Yes of course to use a boat it must be registered if required by the state it's in. And if the regs require marinas report, then they do, why wouldn't they? Harbormasters, patrolling officials, tax men walk the docks, varies by state but all are common.
> I am not opposed to taxes and fees if they are fair and sensible. I am surprised at how crazy the "system" in place is. I can see why there could be confusion and resentment.
I doubt if anyone is too concerned about those feelings. For any given state it's usually straightforward.
What gets more difficult is when the owner's residence, the boat's previous registration and where it ends up staying are all different, or when the buyer is trying to cheat.
Then calling a maritime experienced lawyer may well be worthwhile.