New York governor's budget includes yacht tax cap

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $150 billion state budget includes a tax incentive for anyone buying a vessel valued at more than $230,000.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $150 billion state budget includes a tax incentive for anyone buying a vessel valued at more than $230,000, which would put the state on par with Florida’s tax laws.

Buyers would not have to pay sales tax beyond that amount, The New York Times reported.

Senior New York lawmakers reached a budget deal Sunday night and the legislature has started voting on bills that allocate money for fundamentals, including schools and health care.

Jeff Strong, the president of Strong’s Marine on Long Island, said the credit would create jobs and tax revenue in New York with money that is now flowing out of the state.

“It is a big deal because we have so many people with expensive boats that use them in New York and Florida,” Strong told the newspaper. “Right now they buy the boats, and pay the tax, in Florida, and then bring them up here.”

The tax, he said, puts the state roughly on a par with Florida in how it taxes yacht purchases. That state caps its tax on boats at $18,000.

A Florida Yacht Brokers Association and Marine Industries Association of South Florida study said Florida took in nearly 10 times as much sales tax revenue on sales of tax-capped boats as the state projected in its first year of the Maritime Full Employment Act.

Cuomo, a Democrat, met with industry representatives in January at the New York Boat Show in Manhattan to discuss the proposed tax cut, Strong told the Times. Although Strong did not attend the meeting, he spoke with the governor separately that day and Cuomo expressed his support, Strong said.

“He is very proactive about keeping businesses in New York,” Strong said, “and this is one more proactive step.”

Critics have said the measure is a tax break for the wealthy. But in an (Albany) Times-Union op-ed, Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Pete Bardunias said the incentive is crucial to keeping New York businesses competitive.

“The reason this tax break is even being considered is because other states have enacted measures which are helping spur boatbuilding, sales, purchases and most of all, use within their borders at the expense of New York,” Bardunias wrote.

“Chris Squeri, executive director of the New York Marine Trades Association, shared his thoughts with me, saying, ‘This is not about giving yacht owners a break. This is about creating jobs and boosting both marine businesses and sales tax revenue. For years, New York state and its marine businesses have lost money to other states and foreign entities. People purchase and register/document boats out of state. New York has been losing for years, especially to Florida.’ ”

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