Safe boating, scholarships and the death tax

As we approach the midpoint of the traditional summer boating season, a tip of the hat to the National Safe Boating Council on their newest safe boating public service video.

Under the leadership of executive director Virgil Chambers, the latest public service announcement entitled “Casting Off” is a clever tongue-in-cheek video that encourages safe boating by wearing a life jacket. The video, paid for by a Coast Guard grant, demonstrates that the important life jacket message can be effectively rendered without the need for a “shock” or “gruesome” storyline.

Click play to watch “Casting Off.”

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Kudos to the Michigan Boating Industries Association for continuing to provide scholarships to students seeking careers in the marine industry. It’s the kind of program that can easily be dropped when the economy goes south. But the association’s Recreational Boating Industries Educational Foundation has kept it a priority and just awarded $6,800 in scholarships to 10 students for the 2012-13 school year.

“There are many interesting and challenging jobs within the boating industry and we are passionate about educating students about our industry,” said foundation chairman John Hatfield of Howe Interlakes Marine. Since inception, the foundation has awarded $339,396 to deserving students.

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Less than six months and counting ... that’s what’s left until the “death tax” (formally known as the inheritance tax) skyrockets from 35 to 55 percent and the exemption plummets from $5 million to $1 million. The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas is continuing its push for full, permanent repeal of the estate tax. The tax is a burden on boat dealers and jeopardizes family inheritance and the continuation of family-owned and operated small businesses, according to MRAA president Matt Gruhn. There are reports the House could act in August on a bill to extend the current rates for another year, a move MRAA says it can support if it’s a permanent extension as a route to eventual total repeal. More likely, however, Congress will not act on any tax legislation until after the November election in the lame-duck session. Then, fasten your seat belt.

The MRAA also reports there has been some concern expressed recently about the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, aka Dodd-Frank, and its application to boat dealers. In an interesting turn of events, MRAA’s Washington lobbyist Larry Innis reports being approached by another group to trade off MRAA’s staunch opposition to any repeal of the second home mortgage deduction in return for an exemption for boat dealers from the cumbersome Dodd-Frank reporting requirements.

“The good news is boat dealers are already exempt from Dodd-Frank reporting,” Innis said. “MRAA successfully achieved that during the conference committee process when former Senator Sam Brownback (Kansas) included language that effectively exempted boat dealers. So unless a dealer actually carries the financing, something virtually no dealer does, dealers are exempt from Dodd-Frank reporting requirements, plain and simple,” he emphasizes. Further, MRAA’s long-standing support for maintaining the second-home mortgage deduction also remains unchanged.


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