Rhode Island debates lifting boat tax exemption

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In response to legislation that has been introduced in Rhode Island to repeal the sales-tax exemption for boats, state Rep. Richard Morrison is stressing the importance of the boatbuilding industry to the state's economy and pledging to fight any attempts to repeal the exemption.

A bill recently introduced in the state Senate would extend the state sales tax to the sale, storage and use of new and used boats.

Morrison, whose district is home to several boatbuilding companies and marinas, said the proposed legislation would affect not only boatbuilders, but all marine businesses and every Rhode Islander.

"This bill destroys our state's boatbuilding and servicing industries, and it burdens every Rhode Island boat owner who enjoys our great waters. Also, there are countless boats kept in Rhode Island by out-of-state owners precisely because of the tax exemption," he wrote in a column.

"These owners support the local marinas where they dock and store their boats, as well as all of the various suppliers and services that surround the industry locally," he said. "Since the repeal of the sales tax for boats in 1992, millions of dollars have been pumped back into the state's economy. In these difficult fiscal times we cannot afford to throw away such a significant economic gain."

Morrison said he has met with General Assembly leadership to convey the importance of the sales tax exemption to the marine industry in Rhode Island and will make it a priority to ensure the exemption remains intact.

There are more than 2,300 marine-related businesses in Rhode Island and they employ more than 6,600 people.

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