WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) used the Palm Beach International Boat Show to continue her fight to make it easier for foreign-flagged yachts visiting the United States to be sold to Americans.
Boating's economic impact in the United States — especially in Florida — would increase greatly if a 107-year-old tax law is overturned in Congress, Frankel said Friday.
Removal of the law would allow U.S residents to board and purchase foreign-flagged vessels while in U.S. waters without first paying an import duty. That is something only non-U.S. residents are now permitted to do.
"We have an idea we're cooking up in Congress to bring even more yachts and more jobs into not only South Florida, but the country," Frankel told media members, yacht industry executives and boat show officials.
"We have an antiquated law … that requires [the owners of] foreign-flagged yachts ... to pay up front a tax on their yachts. We believe this is discouraging them from coming here to sell their yachts. We have a bill in Washington, D.C., that will allow [owners of] these foreign-flagged yachts to come into the country — year-round — and sell their yacht and then pay the tax."
Frankel said that at any given time there are about 400 yachts offshore that would come into the United States if the law were abolished.
"When a yacht is sold, the upgrade is about 13 percent of the value and the maintenance is about 10 percent," she said. "We have about $2 billion worth of yachts offshore that we think we can attract [into this country] by changing this law. This translates into many jobs in the country."
Chuck Collins, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III, CEO of Show Management, and Jeff Erdmann, chairman of the Florida Yacht Brokers Association’s Legislative Affairs Committee, also spoke during the 25-minute press conference.
The law’s removal "would not cost the federal government a single penny and actually would bring more revenue to the state of Florida — $2.46 billion in economic impact," Erdmann said. "That is going to build the economy overall. It’s wonderful to have a champion in Washington working on this legislation. Today trade is so important to our economy."
Seiler said “the marine industry means the world to us, and the congresswoman understands its value. It’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs.”