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Trade group urges Virginia to keep boat-tax cap

Members of the Virginia Marine Trades Association gathered last week in Richmond as part of the association's inaugural Lobby Day event.

Fourteen General Assembly members, or their legislative aides, met with constituents to discuss legislation of concern to the industry.

“With more than 253,500 watercraft registered in the commonwealth, as well as 7,600 documented vessels, boating and other activities related to Virginia’s waterways are a significant part of our state’s heritage — and our economy,” VMTA president Carolyn Norton Schmalenberger, of Norton Yachts in Deltaville, said in a statement. “VMTA seeks to protect and promote all of the different businesses involved in recreational boating.”

Lobby Day attendees shared their concerns about House Bill 145, which would remove the long-standing $2,000 cap on the sales tax for boats.

“Virginia’s watercraft tax structure benefits not only consumers and boat dealers, but also businesses that serve the recreational watercraft industry and the local economy,” Schmalenberger said. “For many years, Virginia has been perceived as a boating-friendly state. Removing the cap would postpone purchases, discourage boat owners from moving up in size and drive boat buyers to neighboring states where watercraft tax is much less.”

Members also shared statistics provided by the National Marine Manufacturers Association detailing a significant drop in recreational watercraft spending in Virginia between 2007 and 2010.

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