For a number of years now, many Texas boat buyers have avoided bringing their boats to their home state after purchasing them. What could prompt Texan boat owners to register their boats in other states? The answer: high boat sales tax rates here in our state. In recent years, many other coastal states have reduced or eliminated their tax rates and found substantial increases in boat sales and registrations. These tax savings make it much more appealing for Texan boat buyers to purchase their boats out of state. Were the sales tax paid at purchase not bad enough, there is an additional factor at play in keeping boats out of Texas. In order to register a boat in Texas (something that is necessary if you plan to keep a boat in Texas waters for an extended period of time), you must pay sales tax in Texas even if you have already paid tax on the purchase of a vessel out of state.
What is the effect of this double taxation? Some sportfish vessel owners who would normally have kept the boat in Texas for most of the year, and traveled only a few months a year, now do the opposite. Rather some owners instead keep their boat in other states for most of the year, only returning to Texas to fish the tournaments. The effect of this displacement hurts the thousands of Texans who make their living in the marine service industries. This includes sportfishing crews, yacht brokers, mechanics, financial services, insurance agents, marinas, fuel docks, boatyards, marine supply stores and many others. To address this and other concerns, a group of marine industry professionals in Texas have joined together to form the Texas Marine Industry Coalition (TMIC). The TMIC was created primarily to address this issue head on. The group also provides a voice for Texas marine businesses, employees, venders, customers, and all men and women that make their living in the marine industry. The TMIC is committed to re-establishing Texas amongst the other leading coastal states in boat sales and generally promoting growth in the marine industry. The TMIC is now working with lobbyists to pass pro-sportfishing legislation in the next legislative session. Primary goals of this legislative agenda are bringing our tax rate down, establishing a boat sales tax cap similar to those in Florida and other coastal states and reducing restrictions on out of state boats to make it more attractive for them to bring their boats to Texas. The net result of this legislation would be marine industry job creation and spurring more economic activity for the benefit of coastal communities and the many businesses that benefit from bluewater sportfishing. Hopefully, with the support of the people in our industry, we can look forward to getting more boats back into Texas waters. For more information on the Texas Marine Industry Coalition visit the website at tmicoalition.org. That the report from Texas!