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· ASA and PSIA Instructor
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The CA personnel responsible for collecting use taxes are a lot more expert at tax evasion than any SN posters. So to the OP, if you buy the boat in CA pay the 8% use tax immediately and enjoy your new purchase, or buy the boat in HI.

Even if you fudge a bill of sale, attempts to hide the value can run aground on the USCG Bill of Sale, your insurance policy's declared value, plus if any financing is involved. For example, I believe the USCG B/S is a public document and you will need to provide a copy of your insurance binder to any CA yard or marina you enter.

Failure to pay promptly (based on the purchase date) will result in assessment of penalties and interest, which start accumulating on the use tax due date, not when CA discovers your debt.

A personal experience - back in the mid-90s while a MN resident I paid off a four year old MA demand for a use tax for a boat I hadn't owned for six years, one purchased in ME while I was a MA resident. MA discovered my name in a audit of the builder. MA had no evidence I ever brought the boat to MA, their attitude was I had to prove that I had not... Eventually I used my out-of-state remoteness to get the state to waive the penalty and interest in return for the tax. Otherwise it was getting dicey even to return to MA for vacation...
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