Florida Boat Purchase - Georgia Registration/Taxes etc

Discussion in 'Southeast' started by dtfeld, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. dtfeld

    dtfeld Member

    33
    Jun 5, 2016
    Atlanta
    410 Sundancer 2001
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    Hey All.

    Thought someone here might have been in the same "boat". I'm looking at buying a boat in FL, but eventually move it to Georgia. I know I can keep the boat in FL for 90 days without paying FL taxes if I'm moving the boat out of state, and possibly up to a year (I've heard 6-12 month extensions are available, but I cant find any official info). The boat will be a used and purchased through brokers and Coast Guard Documented if that matters.

    My current thinking is cruise it around Florida and possibly up to SC/NC till the fall, then truck it to the final home in Lake Lanier near Atlanta. I am not trying to avoid taxes, want the transaction 100% legal, but if I can spread the taxes and trucking expenses out, that would be a bonus beyond cruising for 6-9 months.

    The question is, when do I have to register it in GA? Immediately? Or when I intend to move it? I can't seem to find a definitive answer on either Florida or Georgia official state websites. Do I need a lawyer or CPA?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  2. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    Regarding the FL options, talk to a boat documentation company in FL. There are several, I have used two different ones in the past.

    When I was doing this past purchase there were some options related to FL registration, I think a 30 day, then a 90 day for a small cost.

    I went ahead and registered in FL even though our plans are to be out of the state a significant portion of the year. We will spend more time in FL than anywhere else, I didn't want to have to prove our time in FL, so just bit the bullet.

    No help on GA topics.

    Mark
     
  3. northern

    northern Well-Known Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    West coast Vancouver to Alaska
    380 Aft Cabin 1989 GPS and Charts by Nobeltec
    Twin 454 strait shaft
    From Canada
    Do not know if this applies to you.
    We purchased our boat in Washington. We had problems finding an insurer that would cover us for more than 30 days as we were not a resident of Washington. We took the boat to Canada and paid the taxes in Canada when we entered Canada. We did not have to pay taxes in Washington.
    Had friend who bought a boat in Florida and had it shipped to Canada. He had to make the transfer of ownership outside of Florida. This was done by taking the boat off shore. Producing photographic evidence they were not in Florida and doing the transfer and payment off shore. He then shipped the boat to Canada and paid Canadian taxes.
     
  4. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    You can save some money by documenting the boat yourself. I did mine this past year and it was easy. All the info you need is on the USCG website and they answer their phone if you have any questions.
    Registration and tax is a State thing. Here in NY the State DMV handles boat registrations. They must be registered here and the registration sticker properly displayed so they know you paid the tax. Documented boats don’t display registration numbers on the hull, but they must display the sticker.
    I’ve heard of boaters getting nailed with heavy fines for not paying the tax and having the sticker.
    If you intend to keep the boat in Florida and have a Florida address you should probably check with that State.
    If you are a Georgia resident you should check with that State to see what their requirements are and comply with them even though you will be boating in Florida for a while.
    Either way, I think you have to register and pay the taxes on the boat as soon as you get it and it’s in the water.
    If you buy the boat from a dealer there is a good chance they will be required to collect the sales tax and register the boat regardless of what State you buy it from.
    Example: I bought my boat from a dealer in Ct. and live in NY. I asked the dealer if I could register the boat in NY myself before taking delivery. NY lets you pay the sales tax at the DMV with a credit card without a surcharge and I have a 2% cash back credit card. They couldn’t let me do it. They had to collect the sales tax for NY even though they are in Ct.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  5. FootballFan

    FootballFan Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 20, 2012
    Florida
    Marquis 59
    MTU Series 60
    Are you buying new or used?

    If you are buying used, is the boat already documented?

    If it is used and currently documented, you will need the USCG Bill of Sale completed by the seller to effect documentation transfer. In the case of a used boat in FL, the dealer/broker is not required to register the boat in FL or to collect sales tax.

    Buying a used boat in FL, my preference is to use an independent transfer agent as opposed to paying fees to a broker to do the paperwork. Having a registered transfer agent handle the documentation paperwork and FL registration typically runs $500-600. To register in FL, someone is going to have to go stand in line at the local office to file the paperwork. A registered agent does this.

    We also purchased a tender this past fall. Chose to have it registered in FL as well. In this case we were purchasing new from a dealer. The dealer handled the registration and sent us the paperwork completed with our sticker.

    If you have the agent also serve as the fiduciary holding the deposit and escrow for closing - in addition to the documentation/registration total cost probably in the 1.5-2K range.

    Also when we went through the purchase in the fall, the wait time for paperwork processing at USCG in general was 2-4 months. A registered agent can submit electronic filings and offer expedited service cutting the time to 2-4 weeks.

    If you do decide to register in FL, the amount of Sales tax is capped (would have to look at paperwork to confirm exact) I believe at $18,000.
     
  6. carterchapman

    carterchapman Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor SILVER Sponsor

    Mar 25, 2008
    Lake Chickamauga/Marietta, GA/Ft. Myers, FL
    2006 Sea Ray 58 DB
    MAN CRM V8-900s, Twin Disc Drives; Onan 21.5 Generator
    As I recall, if you register in FL, then transfer to GA, GA will want their 7% also (you get to pay both). You can keep an out of state boat in FL for 5 months and 29 days without having to register in FL. So depending on how long before you move it out of FL, I would go straight to GA for registration. We are in TN 6 1/2 months and FL 5 1/2 months, so the dingy and boat are TN registered...
     
  7. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    Don't overlook the Enforcement part of this as far as Florida is concerned. One duty of the FWC (Florida fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission; "Florida Water Cops" for short) is to identify violators of the registration law. The FWC has the same enforcement power as the highway patrol or state police. I've seen them make traffic stops, for example. Their "beat" is the local waters thry patrol and we see them ease by the boat in our marina checking registration and walking in the barns looking at registration certificates. They don't miss much and you aren't going to slip one by them.

    If you are going to stay in Florida longer than the allowed time , then register the boat there and hope that Ga. has a reciprocal sales tax agreement with Ga. If you are going to be on the move around Florida, then I would register the boat in Ga and just be a visitor in Florida waters until you move the boat inland.

    Someone else mentioned insurance. Getting a boat insured in Florida is difficult but nearly impossible during hurricane season. Being an absentee owner complicates that. Most insurance companies require a hurricane plan. Who is going to prepare your boat for a storm? Who is going to tend lines? Who is going to move it inland? Who is going to haul the boat out for you? Who is going to move it to a boat yard for haul out? Also, you already need to be contracting for a storm haul out because there are 1000X more boats in Florida than there is space in boat yards to block up boats for storms.

    But here is a word of warning........there is no better boating anywhere than coastal Florida. You will get hooked if you aren't careful.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  8. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    I purchased a 2007 44DB this past August in Pensacola Beach and moved it to Lake Lanier.

    I moved the boat within about 2 weeks of closing and there was no sales tax and no fee. You can go up to 90 days before moving w/o registering, but then there is a fee. There has been no sales tax in GA, only a yearly personal property tax.
    I had to furnish the State of Florida with 2-documents.

    1) A copy of the transportation invoice from the hauler proving it was moved and,
    2) Within 30 days of it leaving Florida, I had to furnish them with a copy of my GA registration.

    This was a documented boat and the State of Florida does not play. I did everything 100% by the book. In October, I got a letter from Florida stating that I had done nothing. I called up the broker that handled everything and she sent proof of where she had mailed everything. They apologized and responded-all good. In December, same letter from a different Florida agent. This time I had saved the response from the 1st "all good." I forwarded the "all good" to the new agent and copied the agent on the first one. Another apology and maybe they got it right this time.

    Save every piece of documenation you can. I scanned and electronically filed everything.

    If I can help, please ask.

    Bennett
     
    Cocktail Time likes this.
  9. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    Frank, Apparently we have the same policy here in NY with the tax man too. I’ve never seen it, or paid too much attention to it because I registered right away to avoid any problems, but I heard several stories of the tax man walking marina docks and driving up and down the canals checking for stickers and a few people getting caught up in it. Apparently they caught the owners of a boat right across the canal from me a few years back and hammered them with fines.
    Local law enforcement looks for the stickers when you’re out on the water.
    Although MarineMax up in Ct. collected the sales tax and registered my boat, the company they use to do the documentation wanted a crazy amount of money ($800 sounds familiar) to document it. I did the paperwork myself and submitted it directly to the USCG. I think it took about 15 minutes, a stamp, and cost me less than a hundred bucks to do the documentation. It only took about 2 or 3 months to get the paperwork back.
    Marine Max charged me a flat fee for the delivery and registration process but it included delivery with the fuel tanks filled up and was less than what the diesel fuel would have cost me. It also included new fire extinguishers, 6 new life vests, 2 new extinguishers, a 4 pack of paper and a bottle of Sealand Cleaner for a hot head so it was a real bargain. I jokingly asked if I could pay the flat fee for the same stuff every year.
    I offered to go to the NY DMV personally to do the registration so I could put the sales tax on my credit card and get the 2% cash back incentive, but they weren’t allowed to let me do that. Probably because they have stores in this State too and are obligated by NYS Law to collect the Sales tax.
    Also heard that another State here in the Northeast either doesn’t collect sales tax on boats or charges a very low amount. Apparently some folks were somehow registering there boats there but docking them here in “The People’s Republic of New York” where they live and they got nailed for it.
    Morale of the story for me: Don’t mess with the tax man.
    Others might get away with it but with my horrible luck they’d seize my boat, put me in jail and throw away the key.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2018
  10. dtfeld

    dtfeld Member

    33
    Jun 5, 2016
    Atlanta
    410 Sundancer 2001
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    I think you guys have confirmed what I thought...get it registered and taxes paid in GA ASAP.

    Here is a sample budget.

    Sales Price $100k

    Inspection-Engines $1000
    Hull Inspection $1000

    Closing Costs
    CG Documentaion/Closing Costs $1000
    15% Down Payment = $15k
    GA State Sales and Use Tax (4%) $4000 ( I think this will be 3-6 months down the line)
    Trucking to Lanier $4000



    All In about $25k...
     
  11. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    You will pay no sales tax in GA. Only personal property tax assessed by the county where you keep the boat. Gwinnett County has a high millage rate.

    Your costs look fair. I had no closing costs and CG doc fee was $450. Will do myself from here on out. Do you have to disassemble/reassemble anything? Perfect time for bottom paint, wax, etc while you have it out of the water. There are 3 travel lifts on Lanier.

    Bennett
     
  12. stephenm27

    stephenm27 Member

    183
    Nov 3, 2009
    Atlanta
    2009 310 Sundancer
    350 MAG Mercs/B3 x 2 (Axius Premier)
    I think you will find a bill from the state of GA coming soon...

    I bought a FL boat via broker in March 2015 and brought it immediately home to GA. Florida collected no sales tax as I attested the boat was being transported out of their jurisdiction. However, they (FL) have a reporting agreement whereby they provide sales info on a yearly basis to the state of GA. So, in the following January, I received a bill from the GA state dept of revenue for the sales tax total as computed based on my county of residence.

    Perhaps your purchase will be overlooked, but I doubt it...
     
  13. bbwhitejr

    bbwhitejr Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Apr 14, 2013
    Lake Lanier GA
    2007 44DB
    Cummins QSC 8.3s
    If the boat is purchased through a broker where the title goes from the private seller directly to you, no sales tax. If purchased through a dealer and the dealer’s name is on the title, then yes, you will pay Ga sales tax.

    At least this is what my research told me. There is an annual Personal Property Tax bill based on the county where the boat is kept for the majority of the year.

    Bennett
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  14. stephenm27

    stephenm27 Member

    183
    Nov 3, 2009
    Atlanta
    2009 310 Sundancer
    350 MAG Mercs/B3 x 2 (Axius Premier)
    My boat was brokered through a licensed FL broker and the title transferred directly from the owner to me (ie not through the broker, dealership, or other party).

    In short, only "casual sales" (aka private-party sales) are NOT subject to sales tax in GA currently. Unfortunately, the state dept of revenue narrowly defines casual sale with the following stipulation regarding sales involving brokers:

    (3) Notwithstanding any other provision of these regulations, when any seller sells tangible personal property for use or consumption through an agent, broker or other person who is regularly engaged in making sales of tangible personal property, either as a principal or as an agent, then, such a sale will not be deemed a casual sale transaction.
    This is taken from Reg. Sec. 560-12-1-.07 of GA sales and use tax rules and regulations. The forms you filed w/ the state of FL are forwarded to the DoR in GA as a lead sheet for the tax billing.

    The good news is that, if you don't receive a bill from the DoR, then you got lucky...just be prepared in the event you do as it's that's time of year.
     
    dtfeld likes this.
  15. dtfeld

    dtfeld Member

    33
    Jun 5, 2016
    Atlanta
    410 Sundancer 2001
    Cat 3126 V-Drives
    Yup...I’m prepared, but does seem hit or miss.
     
  16. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    4% is a bunt compared to the 8.625% sales tax I have to pay in the County I live and register the boat in here in “The People’s Republic Of New York”.
    New York State nails you for their part which is about 4% and then the County tacks on their part hence the total 8.625% on just about everything you buy.
    The sales tax the dealer collected on behalf of the DMV on my boat was more than 10k. That’s why I wanted to go directly to DMV myself to pay it with my 2% cash back credit card. It would have been a couple of hundred bucks back in my pocket.
     
  17. NotHerDecision

    NotHerDecision Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor GOLD Sponsor

    914
    Jun 28, 2016
    Houston, Texas
    2001 Sea Ray 460 Sundancer
    2014 Seadoo 155 LTD
    2105 Seadoo 130 SE
    2013 Mercury Dinghy
    Cummins 6CTA 8.3L
    Here I another caveat to think about. In the documentation you provide to Florida saying you are removing the boat within the required time period it also states you cannot return to Florida waters for 6 months. Keep this in mind because if you do then you owe the full sales tax amount to Florida as well.

    We brought our boat from Florida to Texas in September and wanted to go back to Destin in March but we’re not allowed so had to skip that trip. Don’t want you to get caught up in that.
     
    dtfeld likes this.

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