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Old 01-15-2014, 02:11 PM   #1
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First cruise sound too ambitious?

I am looking at a boat in SC, and if it works out the plan was to fly up with the family in June , cruise the ICW down ending up in Key West and pick up a mooring for a week or so. Then the plan was to store the boat in a good hurricane hole in FL during hurricane season and then bring the boat back to Texas later. Then I read about differing state tax rates and got all greedy and flummoxed.

Couple of questions:

1. First of all I'm wondering if this SC to the Keys sounds too ambitious for a first trip with a "new to us" boat in unknown waters. We have some ICW cruising experience but it was in the South Texas part of the ICW which was pretty easy and uncrowded-- we went from Port Oconnor to South Padre Island. Also, this boat we are looking at is larger than anything we have cruised on the ICW-- it's a 44 Endeavour powercat with almost a 19' beam drawing 3'. The boat we took down the ICW in Texas was a 26' express cruiser, but we have chartered boats in the Bahamas up to 37'. I think I can handle it, but don't want to kill the family on the maiden voyage.

2. Tax issues. We plan to close on this boat Jan 31. SC max sales tax is $300 and I was going to register and leave the home port as SC to avoid Tx 6.25% sales tax. However, if I bring the boat to the Keys before 6 months is spent in SC (Feb-May is only 4 months) the way I read the rules I think I might jeopardize the tax savings.

Should we change our plans to just cruise SC waters for the initial trip, making sure the boat stays in SC for six months after purchase and satisfying the 6 month rule? Or, should I do the trip to the Keys then store it back in SC in a sneaky attempt to get around the 6 month rule (acting like we never left)? Or, do I just go to the Keys as planned hoping I don't get "caught"? How strict are the taxing authorities on this 6 month rule I guess I'm asking?
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:24 PM   #2
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It's a sad state of affairs when one has to contemplate cruising plans around taxes. Just GO. It's some government employees job to find you- not the other way around. Just for the record -in FLORIDA- the State re-assigned off ALL their enforcement personnel to desk duty auditing paperwork.. There's nobody checking anywhere for anything. It makes NO sense because Florida has no State Income tax and derives all it's income from sales tax, but it's a fact. There's one ******* who sit's in his office in Tallahassee, and only goes over paperwork submitted to him with a fine tooth comb looking for for mistakes, but NO ONE out actually looking for real scofflaws. They're not even allowed to have Internet access to look on Craigs List or Ebay for unlicensed dealers. Go for it.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:27 PM   #3
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The tax is a non issue. I have never been checked. But, South Carolina deserves some time, the cruising there is awesome. You could easily put on 50 pounds if you stay around Charleston for a few months, the food is that good. The Red Bank Club at Goose Creek comes to mind. Food to die for. And cheap. Be careful at Edisto cut, try to run it on a slack tide. All in all the low country is a sight that you dont want rush. Spend some time there while its convenient for you. You will remember it the rest of your life.
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Old 01-15-2014, 03:48 PM   #4
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My first cruise on KaJen was the Great Loop starting in Melborne FL. I figured that since Florida wasn't my home, I really didn't care much where I was if the boat broke down. The ICW is a piece of cake.

Florida has strange tax laws. It is my understanding that you are more likely to encounter issues in the Keys than further north.

Insurance may be another consideration. Florida can be pricey in Huracane season.

Have fun,

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Old 01-15-2014, 03:59 PM   #5
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The way I understand it, you will have 90 days to register your boat in Florida. However, if you keep it in SC for 6 months or more, you could register in FL with no use taxes. Insurance during hurricane season is pricey, but with an out of water layup off the Okeechobee Waterway, it should help on the price.

6 mos. time of intermittent cruising will go fast in SC. Don't worry about the ICW. There's nothing you can't handle. Lot's to see and do. Enjoy.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
Then the plan was to store the boat in a good hurricane hole in FL during hurricane season and then bring the boat back to Texas later. Then I read about differing state tax rates and got all greedy and flummoxed.
If your comment about bringing the boat back to Texas means you are a Texas resident then you will likely owe use tax on the boat when it is brought to Texas. Texas will give you credit for any sales or use tax you paid to South Carolina or any other state. I believe the Texas tax rate is 6.25%.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:25 PM   #7
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Yes I am a Texas resident and the boat will eventually make it back to Texas.

I remember a statement made by Yachtbroker in another tax thread, and I think I have read it elsewhere, that if you leave leave your boat where you bought it and registered it (SC) for 6 months then one is free to go to whatever state he wishes without owing tax difference. The boat is CG documented if that matters.

But I could be wrong...
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:32 PM   #8
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Cardude-if I understand correctly, you are to buy the boat in SC, travel to FL, leave the boat there for a while and then move it to Texas as its home.

First of all, like the others, go ahead and do the ICW, get a good guide, have Active Captain available and you can make it just fine. It ain't that hard!

Second, on the tax issue-remembering I cannot give legal advice in Fl or Tx (always got to say that!), it will end up not making much of a difference to you.

If you stay in Florida for 90 days or more, you will need to register the boat there and pay sales/use tax there. There may be an exception if the boat is active for less than 90 days and then stored on the hard until you move it to Tx. That you would have to check on. That said, if you had to register and pay in Fl, you pay a sales/use tax of 6% on a value of up to $300,000, or $18,000 of tax.

When you move the boat to Texas, you will have to register it there and pay sales/sue tax there. The tax rate in Texas is 6.25%. However, Texas will give you a credit for the sales tax paid in Florida. So, you will pay the 0.25% difference in Texas. If you paid $300K or less for the boat, that should be all you would pay. If you paid more than $300K for the boat, you will pay the full 6.25% in Texas on the amount over $300K.

In short, you are going to end up paying 6.25% of the boat's value as sales/use tax when you move the boat to Texas.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:42 PM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. dude.



Tax issues aside, Mr. Arch has the right attitude. You might break down (perish the thought) anywhere. It's all part of the adventure. No matter where you're cruising, local or long distance you'll be with family and that's what it's all about isn't it? I would say your plan should be no plan. You'll get to Texas eventually.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:49 PM   #10
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Be forewarned that finding a hurricane hole in the Keys may be problematic.

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Old 01-15-2014, 05:55 PM   #11
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Fl. only collects sales tax if you buy the boat in Florida for use in Fl. or purchase elsewhere with the intention on bring back to Florida as a resident or keeping it here full time (non-transient). You have so many days to leave the state without paying taxes if you are not a Fl resident.

If you are a Texas res. and buy the boat in SC then Fl is not in the loop. If you boat in Fl for over 90 days then you need to pay for a Fl registration (less then $300). Florida does not make visitors form other states pay sales taxes on a boat owned by them just for visiting.

The question is how to handle the TX state tax as that's where you have residence. I can't answer that but Google can.


As to the cruising, heck ask yourself whats the worse that can happen than ask yourself if you can handle that if yes, then whats the worry.

Get out there.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:19 PM   #12
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Florida law is very generous in respects to no use tax if you are a nonresident, and the boat has been in use 6 mos. or more in another jurisdiction. Most other states are not that lenient.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:22 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the replies and advice so far.

As usual, Im letting myself get too obsessed with money side of things trying to save a buck or $10000. If there is some no-brainer way to save on the tax I'll do it, but if not I'll just bite the bullet and pay the tax. I got started on this tax scheme after talking to a attorney who is an "expert" on these tax issues, and he claimed that for the small, one time fee of $3000 :-) he guaranteed I would not have to pay TX sales tax if I just did what he said. I declined the $3000 offer, but it got my wheels turning.

Anyway, the good news is it looks like the maiden voyage is doable with my present skill set, so that's exciting.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:43 PM   #14
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Absolutly one hunnerd percent positive you can do the ICW from there. Its a great trip. Be VERY carefull before you get to Saint Augestine, before the Bridge of Lions, the ICW makes a dog leg and there is a not so nice "oyster bar" right there. Dont ask me how I know. But, Saint Augastine deserves a lot of time. We were there when they put the lions back on the bridge. An incredible place, spend some time there.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by pilothouse king View Post
It's a sad state of affairs when one has to contemplate cruising plans around taxes. Just GO. It's some government employees job to find you- not the other way around. Just for the record -in FLORIDA- the State re-assigned off ALL their enforcement personnel to desk duty auditing paperwork.. There's nobody checking anywhere for anything. It makes NO sense because Florida has no State Income tax and derives all it's income from sales tax, but it's a fact. There's one ******* who sit's in his office in Tallahassee, and only goes over paperwork submitted to him with a fine tooth comb looking for for mistakes, but NO ONE out actually looking for real scofflaws. They're not even allowed to have Internet access to look on Craigs List or Ebay for unlicensed dealers. Go for it.
Being in Tallahassee, and pretty much outraged at what you say, I called the different State offices here to gripe about such a sad situation. No one seems to know what in the heck you are talking about. So please share with me (and with the other members of the Forum) the data that backs up your statements. Then I will be fully armed with facts and figures when I call them again. (You DO have this data, don't you?)
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:49 PM   #16
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Document the boat or transfer the document and dont worry about the tax. Get reciets for fuel in EVERY state and you are good. Or if you just like payin taxes, get your local assesor to come out. Or, just go to La. once a year and buy fuel.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:18 PM   #17
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Cardude-you are smart enough not to bite on the $3,000 deal (and this is coming from an attorney!), you are plenty smart enough to do the ICW! Reconcile yourself to paying the Texas Use tax when you finally get there. in the meantime, enjoy the cruise with the family!
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:19 PM   #18
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Talking from the perspective of just purchasing a mint condition "used" boat with only 630 hours I would not even think about that trip. Even with a survey and inspection and addressing all the items there remains the unknown. You don't want to put your family in that type of unknown situation. Our first few trips have been limited to the bay and a few nights aboard as we get use the boat and tackle the "to do" list. We are still dealing with a stuffing box that is running a little warm. Until we checkout the anchor and dingy and get the stuffing box cool we are NOT leaving the bay. When we do it will be gradually further and further trips. Don't be in a rush, that's how accidents occur. Believe me I have owned more boats (over 12) of different types before entering the trawler world.

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Old 01-15-2014, 08:30 PM   #19
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Document the boat or transfer the document and dont worry about the tax. Get reciets for fuel in EVERY state and you are good. Or if you just like payin taxes, get your local assesor to come out. Or, just go to La. once a year and buy fuel.
I like this...
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:34 PM   #20
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Our first cruise on a 30 year old trawler was from La Conner to Southeast Alaska where we spent 2 1/2 months exploring. I would say have at it. We were ambitious and spent a fair amount of time planning and working on boat systems. The only casualty last summer was an anchor light. I'm glad we didn't have to think about taxes. That would have been stressful.

Tom
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