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Old 08-13-2018, 12:04 PM   #1
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Will be needing help

Long time boat driver (Maine commercial fisherman) total rookie as liveaboard.
Will be buying a 52' - 60' DeFever and will be full time liveaboards. Located east of San Francisco and very anxious to leave this state. If we buy a West coast boat we will head for Kodiak Island. If an east coast boat the time of year will dictate our direction. We do not have plans to keep a terra firma base so a lot of our questions will be about how to deal with taxes, insurance, registry when being wanderers. We are in our middle 60's and enjoying good health. So if I may--where is the best place to register a boat for this kind of lifestyle. I'm leaning toward Maryland, but figure you good folks who have been there and done that will have opinions. Please Share.

Wolffish. I used to catch wolfish in my nets and admired their capabilities.
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:09 PM   #2
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Old 08-13-2018, 12:11 PM   #3
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The state the boat resides in will dictate where it is registered. You might need to register in multiple states. On the East Coast NH and RI don't have sales or use taxes.
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Old 08-13-2018, 02:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Wolffish View Post
Long time boat driver (Maine commercial fisherman) total rookie as liveaboard.
Will be buying a 52' - 60' DeFever and will be full time liveaboards. Located east of San Francisco and very anxious to leave this state. If we buy a West coast boat we will head for Kodiak Island. If an east coast boat the time of year will dictate our direction. We do not have plans to keep a terra firma base so a lot of our questions will be about how to deal with taxes, insurance, registry when being wanderers. We are in our middle 60's and enjoying good health. So if I may--where is the best place to register a boat for this kind of lifestyle. I'm leaning toward Maryland, but figure you good folks who have been there and done that will have opinions. Please Share.

Wolffish. I used to catch wolfish in my nets and admired their capabilities.
Actually you need to deal with two issues, yourself (or selves) and the boat. You need to determine what you want your state of residency to be. It remains California until you establish it elsewhere. Some states are simpler than others. For instance, Texas and Florida are simple. But property you own, automobiles, will all figure into this.

Then if you want to register the boat in a different state you'll need to determine where and justify it. Doing that you'll want to consider where you will use it as most states will require a registration if you're there beyond 90 days and some beyond 60, even if it's registered elsewhere. You'll need to also look at property taxes, sales taxes, and registration fees as part of the process.

The day you buy the boat is when you'll have to make decisions as you'll either need to follow the sales tax laws of the state you purchase in or decide on another state and move it.
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Old 08-13-2018, 03:28 PM   #5
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I'm leaning toward Maryland, but figure you good folks who have been there and done that will have opinions. Please Share.

Taxes are high in Maryland, if that matters to you. Some retirement income can be excluded. You can do state-by-state comparisons with info from on-line resources.

On the whole, the State is politically left-leaning, if that matters to you. That's largely impacted by the population of Baltimore City/County and the counties adjacent to DC.

Racial and religious bigotry is alive and well in Maryland (I assume, from listening to VHF channels during the short period when we fish, for example), if that matters to you.

The Second Amendment is not popular with Maryland politicians, nor (I think) with the majority of the population.... if that matter to you.

The Chesapeake is special, for boating. And it's easy enough to be "central (sorta) to the whole Atlantic Coast from here.

State sales tax on boats is 6% (I think) and there may (now) be an upper limit on the total amount of tax. (Sorry, I haven't kept up, but that info is on line somewhere, too.) If you keep your boat on the Chesapeake but have not paid sufficient tax on it somewhere... (as in the Delaware solution)... MD will eventually find you. It's not uncommon for folks from PA, DE, NJ, etc to keep their boats here, and just pay the tax.

Documented boats pay a small fee every two years.... for a nifty sticker that lets DNR people see you've paid the "We're documented" fee...

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Old 08-13-2018, 04:04 PM   #6
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Maryland does have a 6% sales tax on boats, but there is now a cap. I think it's only on the first $300K. As mentioned, the Chesapeake is a wonderful cruising ground. For retirement purposes I chose to move to FL. No state income tax and no sales tax moving vehicles you already own, into the state. FL is a good state to winter (November through May) in, but cooler temperatures and less risk of hurricanes are a good motivator to move North for the summer. Leaving the state between June and November (hurricane season) makes a meaningful reduction on boat insurance premiums.

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Old 08-13-2018, 04:53 PM   #7
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If you wander enough and never stay in any one state more than 90 days you may not have to pay sales tax which will be a big nut for the kind of boat you are talking about. I bought a boat in Maryland, told the broker I was taking it out of state and signed an affidavit to that effect and cruised for a couple of years never staying in one state long enough to qualify for state taxes. Yes, purists will say that if you cruise to 10 states and stay in one for two months and that is the most then that state can claim sales tax. But in practice they don't if you keep moving around.

You probably want to establish residency in Florida or Texas to avoid state income taxes. Florida is easy and talk to St Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs, Fl. They can advise you and set up mail forwarding.

If you want a marina base then that will likely mean picking a location and in most cases paying state sales tax on your boat and state income taxes.

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Old 08-13-2018, 04:58 PM   #8
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Bought, but did not keep, my boat in Maryland and registered it in Rhode Island. Worked out great over the years we cruised full time. When we swallowed the anchor and lived aboard in NC, we registered in NC only after they passed a law requiring registration of documented vessels. Cost wasn't much.

I'm a Californian born and raised, lived the the first third of life there and a few return gigs after that. We plan on moving back someday. Boated all up and down the west coast. We were living in Dallas when we decided to go cruising. Took about 5 minutes to choose the east coast as the place to do so, based on experience on virtually the entire US saltwater coastline.
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Old 08-13-2018, 05:30 PM   #9
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Oregon isn't too bad. Washington State sucks.

I am a full time cruiser (livaboard) and my boat is USCG Documented in Alaska. USCG documentation is $26, no income tax, no state sales tax. You do need to spend a year in Alaska to obtain residency....
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:22 PM   #10
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I winter in Oregon, no sales tax, no state income tax. And spend summers in Canada and Alaska. With a little effort, you could establish residency and skip the California sales tax on your new boat. If you don't like crowds Alaska, Canada is a good way to go. Former salmon and tuna fisherman. I also had 2 businesses in California, a large boatyard and another marine business. I won't even visit that state. In a few years it will probably merge with Venezuela.
I use a commercial mail box service that holds and forwards my mail when traveling.
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:39 PM   #11
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I winter in Oregon, no sales tax, no state income tax.

Since Oregon has an income tax and since they don't exempt retirement income, how does that work? I know they don't tax social security income, they allow credit for federal income taxes paid, and they may have a credit for low income seniors... but the retirees that I know in Oregon still need to pay some state income tax. In this case, they have relatively high incomes which may make the difference.
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