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Two taxing situations in Ohio and New York

Ohio dealers are in a heated battle to prevent tax increases, while dealers in New York are fighting to keep a new tax policy. In both cases, it’s a full-court press.

If Ohio lawmakers grant Gov. John Kasich’s budget request, it will be a triple tax whammy for boat dealers. First, Kasich’s budget would chop in half the current law that allows the value of a new boat for sales tax purposes to be reduced by the value of the trade­in.

Second, Kasich wants to raise the state sales tax from 5.75 percent to 6.25 percent.

Third, the governor proposes a hike in the commercial activity tax from 0.26 to 0.32 percent, something that hits businesses selling big-ticket items particularly hard.

The Boating Associations of Ohio is heavily engaged in Columbus with messages including: consumers will simply choose not to buy and retail boat sales will drop (the infamous luxury tax lesson); Ohio’s boat dealers will no longer be able to compete with surrounding states (Michigan just passed a tax on the difference law); it’s double taxation as it again taxes what has already been taxed; and it will result in lost jobs in dealerships and marinas.

In finalizing Ohio’s two-year state budget, the General Assembly must act before July 1 when a new budget goes into effect. With many possible tax and budget decisions floating around, it’s likely that the Boating Associations of Ohio will be battling the issues until late June.

Meanwhile, dealers in New York are fighting to keep a new tax policy designed to expand the boat business, make dealers more competitive and save jobs.

A provision included in the state budget puts a tax cap on any boat purchase greater than $230,000. But, apparently, many New Yorkers, after the fact, don’t agree with the provision and are calling for repeal. Ironically, leading the charge against the tax cap is State Sen. Rich Funke, who voted for the measure. He’s now authored a bill to repeal it.

However, as things stand now, starting June 1, customers buying boats from a New York dealer will pay sales tax on only the first $230,000 of the purchase price. In most counties, that would be 8.25 percent or $18,975.

According to Chris Squeri, executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association, people just don’t get it. It’s not a giveaway to the rich as opponents paint it. Rather, it’s a very sensible, pro-business measure that “levels the playing field” with states like Florida ($18,000 tax cap) and others, “so New York can get some tax instead of nothing at all” when buyers simply purchase where the tax laws are more favorable. Repealing it will mean loss of expected tax revenues and jobs at a time when more of both are needed.

Coast Guard unveils new boating safety website

The Coast Guard’s Office of the Auxiliary and Boating Safety launched a redesigned boating safety website that will provide easier navigation for dealers, manufacturers and boating consumers to locate information they need.

This new design is the first enhancement in more than five years, according to Capt. F. Thomas Boross, chief of the Office of Boating Safety at Coast Guard headquarters. The redesign offers users a more streamlined route to quickly find the content or information they seek with a minimum number of keystrokes and clicks.

Three main website sections each focus on information specific to recreational boaters, product manufacturers/dealers and boating safety organizations. Drop-down menus for regulations, product defects and safety recalls, statistics and other divisions provide conduits to broader data selections, laws, grant information and imagery libraries. Also included is information on the Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council.

The boating safety website is among the most heavily-visited for data and information concerning recreational boating safety, according to Boross. The goal is to provide a premier compendium of information and assistance to the boating community.

To visit the new site, go to www.uscgboating.org.

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