Maryland trade group backs cap on excise tax

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Some Maryland boaters are opting to dock their boats in neighboring states because of high excise taxes.

That’s according to a report in the Capital Gazette, which says Hamilton Chaney, president of Herrington Harbour North Marina, lost another customer last week.

Dr. Richard Rende, a 60-year-old orthopedic surgeon from Steamboat Springs, Colo., told Chaney that his 48-foot sailing catamaran would be departing early from Chaney’s marina. On June 25, Rende arrived at the marina, where he pays $1,000 a month to dock. He has spent $30,000 in Maryland — mostly on boat work with different companies, but also at local restaurants and hotels.

But Rende is leaving for Delaware to avoid Maryland’s vessel excise tax, which would force him to pay 5 percent of the value of his boat if he stayed in the state longer than 90 days this year.

“People like me, we spend a lot of money,” he told the paper. “And you’re going to lose all that money if you don’t change [the law].”

The excise tax is becoming more of an issue for an industry struggling to stay afloat and some say it’s the reason Maryland didn’t enjoy rebounding boat sales in 2011. Some boating advocates say capping the tax, as Virginia did years ago and Florida did in 2010, would grow tax revenue for Maryland.

The Marine Trades Association of Maryland hopes to propose such a bill in next year’s General Assembly

Annapolis, known as the Sailing Capital of the World, is in the bottom half of the country in total sales of boats, engines, trailers and accessories. Maryland’s sales fell from $183 million in 2010 to $162 million in 2011, placing the state No. 26 in the nation. In 2008, that number was $248.5 million.

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