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Florida may cap taxes on high-end boats

A tax cap on high-end boats is included in a $193 million package of tax incentives passed by the Florida state Senate last week.

A similar measure was also adopted by the House's finance and tax council, the Miami Herald reports. The measure caps the sales tax on boats sold in Florida at $18,000, or the amount that would currently be taxed on a $300,000 yacht

Under the proposal, all boat purchases are subject to Florida's standard 6 percent sales tax. The tax caps at $18,000 - beyond that level, the rest of the boat's cost is tax-free.

In a budget year marked by deep cuts in basic state services, the tax incentives for high-end boats have some lawmakers wary.

Sen. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat, voted for the package but admitted the yacht tax break is "hard to justify."

"It's a huge tax break in these hard times for the sale of extremely expensive airplanes and yachts," she said.

Supporters argue that the measure is needed to capture tax revenue now being lost by boat buyers who legally skirt Florida's tax laws.

"It's not a tax break,'' said Jeff Erdmann, president of Bollman Yachts in Fort Lauderdale. "It's a revenue generator. Nobody's getting a break here because they're not paying the tax at all. We're asking them to pay the revenues to the state of Florida.''

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