Florida bill would cap yacht tax

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The Florida legislature is considering a new bill that would put a cap on the sales tax charged for yachts and airplanes in an effort to stem the flow of sales going to other states and countries.

"It's an important bill," John Sprague, chairman of the legislative committee for the Marine Industries Association of Florida, told Soundings Trade Only.

"There are people that come to Florida from other states and countries. Because of the sales tax they're not going to stay in Florida, so we're not getting the benefit of any tax money," he says.

The Aviation and Maritime Full Employment Act would cap the sales tax on boats and planes at $25,000, according to a report in The Miami Herald. With a tax rate of 6 percent, that would cap the sales tax for anything above $400,000.

Some legislators say high taxes lead buyers to purchase boats out of state and storing it outside state lines.

Some lawmakers have criticized the bill, arguing that it's unfair to hand out tax breaks to the more affluent while the state is increasing the cost of a driver's license and other fees in order to balance the budget, the newspaper reports.

However, Sprague says it's not a tax break, but an effort to keep tax revenue and other business in Florida. He says consumers who buy and register their boats in Florida will stay in the Sunshine State to dock and service the vessel.

"If they're not collecting [the taxes] anyway, [the bill] really does not have an impact on the budget," he says. "It's a generator for the State of Florida, not a negative."

The bill is still working its way through the legislative process, but time is running out. Sprague says there are a lot of bills on the agenda and only two weeks left in the current session.

"There are going to be a lot of bills that don't get passed, but I'm hopeful for this one," he says.

— Melanie Winters

m.winters@tradeonlytoday.com

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