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Old 08-16-2011, 05:49 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 5

brother in New Hampshire suggested move there when retire. Will be purchasing boat. Found New Hampshire has no sales tax, but high real estate and personal property tax (which would be annual on the boat I think)so one may negate the other. Also have read that if you purchase in a state with no or a low sales tax % that if you EVER spend more than 6 months in another state that has sales tax you have to pay then.

So, wanted to get that understood -- If I purchase boat in New Hampshire and pay no sales tax -- Cruise for 8 or 10 years, during which time in New Hampshire off and on. Then for whatever reason park on the S. Carolina or Florida coast for longer than six months -- Do I have to pay sales tax then? It just seems that there would be some kind of time limit on it, as that could go on forever -- one state tax at 3%, another state 5%, another state 7%, and each time you moved you would have to pay the difference.

In this case, one would be paying high personal property taxes on the boat annually and then after 5 or 10 years get hit with the sales tax from a different state also, when the personal property taxes are very high in New Hampshire due to the -0- sales tax.

Has anyone looked at the coastal states and figured out the best one to be a resident in when you retire for State income tax, sales tax, personal property tax on boat, etc. -- or is it about the same with one offsetting the other?

I figure that one way or the other you will have to pay, I just don't want to have to pay twice.

Thank you in advance if anyone has any info on this.

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Old 08-16-2011, 06:54 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Washington DC
Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
Posts: 3,236

We don't like the idea of people choosing to strategically retire or move to a state (or another country) for tax benefit alone. However, many people retiring do choose to move to another state as part of that retirement and then figuring out which state gets your money (per the laws) has to take place. They're all different. You should figure out where you want to go and get the current information about that state's sales, use, and property tax. Sales and use tax are different that property tax and may have to be paid by non-residents. It all depends on how aggressive the particular state is about collecting sales tax and use tax. If use tax is combined with property tax in a particular state, then the out of state boater who tarries too long in a state will end up paying that property tax as well.

As out of state residents, we've paid use tax in California. That is no problem--we use our boat in that state. When we bought the boat, we were in one state, the previous owner another state and the boat in a third state. The transaction was completed via Fed-Ex with us all in our respective locations. So, we had a funny time trying to pay our sales tax to the "proper state" because we're a US documented vessel and our home state (FL) requires payment of sales tax at the time the boat is registered--and the boat doesn't have to be registered there unless we bring the boat there--which we have not done and my not do for many, many years. A year went by and I suddenly realized that we were going to be paying sales tax somewhere! I called our home state tax folks explaining that as we travel we really don't want to pay sales tax to another state because we've been there too long but we'd rather pay it to our own state. They, of course, said just register the boat. We, of course, didn't want to do that because its an extra cost every year and unneeded since we're on the West Coast right now...and an extra thing to remember to do each year as well. Finally, I found a form online that allowed me to send a check to the state of Florida for sales tax for large items purchased outside of the state. Check in the block. Well, in the mail actually, Proof that I've paid sales tax in my own (high sales tax) state so another state doesn't get a windfall of tax benefit.

Again, everyone's situation is different. I would suggest that you not let taxes drive you towards a particular state but rather choose a state that you want as your home state or just retain your residency in the state you live in. We have family in both Minnesota and Florida. We figured it might be a long stretch to ever get the boat up to Lake Superior whereas Florida would be on the way to many things. Florida is welcoming of cruisers in terms of choosing it as a "home state" however, we came very close to keeping Washington, DC as our home state since we'd lived there for over a decade before moving aboard a boat on the West Coast. The primary driver for us to change personal residence was not tax rates but rather since DC is treated the same as a territory or US possession DC does NOT have voting representation in the US Congress (only a member in the House of Representatives whose vote doesn't count and a "shadow Senator" who is just showing up to keep an eye on what the voting Senators are doing); we decided that we should move our residence to a state where we would be represented by votes in both the House and the Senate. Everyone has their reasons for doing things.

"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

What we're doing - The sailing life aboard and the Schooner Chandlery.

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Old 08-16-2011, 10:30 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 5

The thought was that since my brother was there and had no relatives anywhere else that I might as well use New Hampshire, since I have to change residence to somewhere on the coast. And if I come back to the states and would be docked, it would probably be there to visit. Don't plan to be residing in Indiana once on the boat.

My negative thought to his suggestions was concern that it might cost me paying twice, once with very large personal property taxes each year (even though I may not be anywhere near the U.S.) and then again if I ever docked in another state, I would pay for the sales tax I didn't pay in New Hampshire. Just don't want to pay the highest property taxes and the highest sales taxes for a residence that I may only be at once every two years to visit.

Don't mind paying my fair share, normal sales tax, normal personal property tax, just not the highest in both cases. It is really hard to figure out where you will end up if your plan is not to be in the U.S. very often.

I have a at least two years to make this decision, so no rush.

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