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NMTA Beats Proposal To Double Excise Tax

If any marine business ever questions the value of belonging to a state or local marine trade association, here is compelling evidence of the value these organizations provide — and for typically minor annual dues.

A case in point from the Seattle-based Northwest Marine Trade Association proves what an MTA can do for members. “Because our NMTA team continually monitors any legislation or regulatory proposal that could impact our members, we can take effective action, often before an issue even makes the news,” says NMTA president George Harris.

For example, last month, NMTA’s vice president and director of government affairs, Peter Schrappen, learned of a proposal to double the state’s Watercraft Excise Tax from 0.5 to 1 percent on the value of each registered boat. In no time, the idea became embodied in Senate Bill 5483. (Note that recreational boaters pay the excise tax every June when they renew their registrations.)

NMTA quickly sounded the alarm, orchestrated a united effort with the Recreational Boating Association of Washington and attacked the proposed tax increase. It led to more than 5,500 NMTA and RBAW members sending 17,000-plus messages opposing the tax increase.

Moreover, NMTA effectively demonstrated that boaters already pay their fair share for state services, citing a recent audit that showed boaters pay an estimated $71 million in taxes and fees while receiving only $54 million in services. This aggressive action resulted in the removal of the tax increase from the Senate bill.

More evidence of the value of membership is obvious in some other NMTA accomplishments during the pandemic.

• gained “Essential” designation for marinas, fuel docks, boatyards and marine service providers during the state’s initial Stay Home-Stay Healthy order

• gained early reopening for boat dealers and brokers May 5 last year during the declared Phase 1 reopening

• ensured favorable legislation and policies for all segments of the NMTA membership, including recreational fishing, marinas, boatyards and superyacht interests

Many MTAs maintain a lobbyist in their state’s capital to watch for any proposal from a lawmaker or regulatory agency that can appear at any time. “It’s impossible for most boating and fishing businesses who are minding their store to also be monitoring all related government actions,” Schrappen says. “At NMTA, we do it on their behalf to prevent our industry’s interests from getting carved up without us getting a say.

“And on the flip side,” Schrappen continues, “we continually make our voice heard pursuing meaningful policies and laws that can improve boating and fishing now and in the future.”

There are many other examples of how MTAs from Maine to Michigan and Florida are positively impacting the business environment while protecting members from ill-conceived laws and regulations. Supporting them with your membership is investing in an insurance policy, but this one pays off daily, covering issues you’ll never be able to deal with alone.

If there is an MTA in your area, do your part and support it with your membership.

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