South Carolina county considers yacht tax break

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Officials in Charleston County, S.C., are looking into lowering the 10.5 percent tax rate for yachts to 6 percent.

Boats registered out of state are taxable if they are in the county for 180 days. It's a difficult law to enforce, however, because on the 179th day a vessel can put to sea for a while, then return to a dock in the county, The Post and Courier newspaper reported.

Yacht owners would be more likely to pay than seek to avoid taxes, and yacht upkeep could generate local revenue, County Register of Mesne Conveyance Charlie Lybrand suggested.

Seven million-dollar-plus yachts were on the tax rolls last year, and five yachts had a value of at least a half-million dollars. In 2010, the property tax bill on a $10 million yacht was $277,765, the article said.

There are more than 20,000 boats whose owners receive property tax bills in Charleston County, but the top 50 account for one-fifth of the taxes.

Property taxes levied on boats in Charleston County last year totaled $5.3 million, up from $4.6 million in 2009. Most of it came from high-value boats.

Marina operators and boat-related businesses have complained that the tax laws drive some of their most lucrative business to states such as Florida.

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