Massachusetts Boaters! Please Act Today to Prevent MA from Digging Deeper Into Your Boating Budget to Balance Theirs!

Massachusetts Boaters! Please Act Today to Prevent MA from Digging Deeper Into Your Boating Budget to Balance Theirs!

Each State legislative session, some legislator is convinced to file a bill trying to change the boat excise tax system, in ways which actually reduce revenues for the Commonwealth by discouraging boaters from coming here, staying here or even storing and repairing their boats here. Who wants this bill?  A small subset of the Massachusetts Assessors’ Association, who hold views about making owners of bigger boats pay more in taxes and who certainly are mistaken
about this being a “revenue neutral” proposal.

This year, Rep. Geoff Diehl of Whitman, the 7th Plymouth County seat, has proposed the bill in the form of an Amendment to the House Budget.  This means it could be lumped with a bunch of other Amendments and voted on en masse without proper attention to its negative impact on boating affordability, jobs at marinas and boatyards and all the small businesses that count on boaters
spending money in their communities.

To add insult to injury, the proposed text refers to making people pay more for “the privilege of using the waterways of the Commonwealth” when navigating the tidelands is a Public Trust Right granted to the people before we were even a Commonwealth by that monarchist King George.

Please take three minutes to make three phone calls and leave a message saying “don’t support Amendment #710 in the House budget” for all the reasons above.

  1. Call your own Representative where you vote, identifying yourself as a constituent. Check www.wheredoIvotema.com if in doubt, or call Jamy Madeja’s office at 617-227-8410 if you don’t know who your Representative is;
  2. Call Speaker DeLeo:  617-722-2500. The person taking the message will ask you if you’ve told your own Representative yet, so do that message first; and
  3. Call Rep. Geoff Diehl:  617-722-2810.  Your call to him should say “withdraw your Amendment”. Try not to add colorful epitaphs.

Text of Amendment #710 is below:

Amendment #710 to H.4000 Relative to Marine Vessels

Mr. Diehl of Whitman moves to amend the bill by inserting the following section:

“SECTION XX. SECTION 1. Chapter 60B of the General Laws, as
appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out sections 1 through 6 and inserting in place thereof the following new sections:-

Section 1. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:

“Commissioner”, the commissioner of revenue.

“Director”, the director of the division of law enforcement of the department of fisheries, wildlife and environmental law enforcement.

“Habitually moored or docked”, the place where the owner has usual mooring or dockage during July and August for the summer season.

“Principally situated”, for a registered ship or vessel where it is registered, and for a non registered ship or vessel, whether documented or not, the city or town in Massachusetts where it is principally located during the year.

“Vessel”, every watercraft, including documented boats and ships, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, and includes all equipment, including mode of power, and furnishings that are normally required aboard the vessel during accomplishment of the functions for which the vessel is being utilized.

Section 2. (a) Except as hereinafter provided there shall be assessed and levied by each city and town in each fiscal year on every vessel, regardless of registration of origin and its equipment, for the privilege of using the waterways of the commonwealth, an excise measured by
the value thereof, as hereinafter defined and determined, at the rate of 5 dollars per 1000 of valuation, provided, that the excise imposed by this section shall in no event be less than 5 dollars or exceed 2,000 dollars.

(b) Any person who owns such a vessel on July 1 shall annually, on or before September 1, make a return on oath to the assessors of the city or town where such vessel is habitually moored or docked or in the case of a vessel which has no mooring or docking space, where said vessel is principally situated, setting forth the vessel’s registration or documentation number, if any; an adequate description, and the place of habitual mooring or docking or other principal location of said vessel.

(c) For the purpose of the excise, the value of each vessel, and its equipment, including any engine or motor used to propel said vessel, shall be deemed to be the value, as determined by the commissioner, of vessels and equipment of the same make, type, model and year of manufacture as designated by the manufacturer, but not in excess of the following percentages of the list price established by the manufacturer for the year of manufacture:-

In the year of manufacture…..50%
In the second year……..40%
In the third year………30%
In the fourth year……….20%
In the fifth and succeeding years…10%

The commissioner shall, as he deems best, make available to the local assessors the information showing the values as determined under this subsection.

(d) The payment of such excise shall exempt such owner from any other tax applicable to said vessels and their equipment under chapter 59

(e) If an owner fails to make such a return within the time herein provided, the assessors may abate the tax otherwise imposed by this chapter if such owner provides the assessors with a reasonable excuse for failure to file such return and if the return is filed on or before October 31 of the year in which the tax is assessed; but no abatement hereunder shall reduce the tax otherwise imposed to an amount less than the sum of the excise imposed by this section plus 50 per cent thereof.

(f) Said excise shall be assessed in the city or town where the vessel is habitually moored or docked, or in the case of a ship or vessel which has no mooring or docking space, where the ship or vessel is principally situated; provided, however, that if more than 1 municipality owns property in a harbor, the municipality which maintains such harbor in which the vessel is habitually moored, docked or situated shall assess and collect said excise; and provided, further, that where more than 1 municipality maintains portions of the harbor, the municipality which maintains that portion of the harbor in which the vessel is habitually moored, docked or situated shall assess and collect said excise.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent the board of assessors from granting an abatement in any case in which the excise aforesaid is, in the opinion of the board, excessive. No abatement under this section shall reduce any excise to less than 5 dollars; no abatement shall be granted in an amount less than 5 dollars and no refund shall be paid in an amount less than 5 dollars.

(h) If during any fiscal year ownership of a vessel subject to an excise under this chapter is transferred by sale or otherwise and the registration of such vessel is surrendered, or if during any fiscal year the owner of a vessel subject to such an excise removes to another state and registers a vessel in such other state and surrenders or does not renew his registration in this state, the excise under this chapter shall be reduced, upon application, by an abatement equal to the proportion of an excise under this chapter on such vessel for the full fiscal year which the number of months in said year remaining after the month in which such transfer by sale or otherwise or such surrender or expiration of registration occurs bears to 12.

(i) All sums received from the excise imposed under this chapter shall be paid into the treasury of the city or town and 50 per cent of said excise shall be credited to the municipal waterways improvement and maintenance fund established under section 5G of chapter 40.

Section 3. The excise imposed by this chapter shall not apply to vessels described in section 8 of chapter 59 and in section 67 of chapter 63; to vessels owned by the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof; to law enforcement vessels; to vessels under construction; to ferries; to boats, fishing gear and nets, with a value of 50 thousand dollars or less, owned and actually used by the owner in the prosecution of his business if engaged in commercial fishing and if no less than 50 per cent of his income is from commercial fishing; nor to other vessels with a value of 1 thousand dollars or less. Said exemptions shall not subject said vessels and their equipment to any other tax under chapter 59.

Section 4. The board of assessors, upon assessing the excise imposed by this chapter, shall commit the same to the collector of taxes with their warrant for the collection thereof. The collector of taxes shall seasonably notify the owner of the excise assessed and the due date, but failure to receive notice shall not affect the validity of the excise. Said excise shall be due and payable at the expiration of 60 days from the date upon which the notice was issued by the collector pursuant to this chapter.

Failure to pay said excise by the due date shall result in a penalty being imposed which shall be equal to 20 dollars or 20 per cent of the amount of the excise due, whichever is greater. The penalty shall be in addition to the amount of excise due and any interest thereon imposed by law. If said excise remains unpaid after the due date, the harbormaster of a city or town shall refuse to allow the vessel to moor, dock, or otherwise be situated within the waterways of said city or town. All sums received from said penalty shall be credited to the municipal waterways improvement and maintenance fund established under section 5G of chapter 40

Section 5. The provisions of law relative to the collection, payment, abatement, verification and administration of the motor vehicle excise imposed underchapter 60A shall so far as pertinent apply to the excise imposed under this chapter.

Section 5A. No owner of a vessel shall be issued a registration decal or certificate of number, or renewal of such decal or certificate, under sections 2A and 3 of chapter 90B unless the owner has included with theapplication for such decal or certificate proof of payment of the full amount of the excise assessed for the prior fiscal year for any vessel for which the owner has a decal or certificate on July 1 of such year. Upon failure of the applicant to provide such proof of payment, or receipt of such other notice of non-payment made by the local tax collector that the director may determine, the director shall place the matter on record and not issue or renew a registration decal or certificate of number for any vessel owned by the person to whom the unpaid excise tax was assessed until after notice from the local tax collector that the matter has been disposed of in accordance with law. The provisions of section 2A of chapter60A shall apply to any
notifications of non-payment made by the local tax collector.

Section 6. The director shall annually, on or before October 1, transmit to the board of assessors of each city and town a list of all ships or vessels which were documented or registered on the immediately preceding July 1. The list shall include for each vessel, the name and residential address of the owner, if an individual, or name and principal place of business, if a corporation, partnership or other entity, the city or town in which the vessel is habitually moored or docked, the name of the manufacturer, the year of manufacture as designated by the manufacturer, the model type, the length, the horsepower of the engine or motor used to propel the vessel, the document number or certificate of number and the value as determined by the commissioner. The director may require from the owner such information as may be necessary for purposes of this chapter.

SECTION 2. Chapter 90B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 2 the following section:-

Section 2A. The owner of a vessel, which has a valid marine document issued by the Bureau of Customs of the United States or any federal agency successor thereto and is homeported in the commonwealth or maintained in commonwealth waters by a resident of the commonwealth, shall apply to the director on a form prescribed him for a registration decal or renewal thereof. The application shall be signed by the owner of the vessel and submitted to the director together with a fee, as determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section 3B of chapter 7.

The registration decal shall be displayed, so as to be visible to any law enforcement officer, on the upper left section of the transom while facing the transom.

Registration decal information for such documented vessels shall be maintained by the department and transmitted to the board of assessors of each city and town for the purposes of assessing the excise imposed by chapter 60B.

This section shall not apply to owners of vessels documented for commercial use.

SECTION 3. Section 3 of Chapter 90B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding
the following subsection:-

(l) Registration information for such motorboats shall be maintained by the department and transmitted to the board of assessors of each city and town for the purposes of assessing the excise imposed by chapter 60B

SECTION 4. This act shall apply to excises assessed for any fiscal year beginning on or after July 1, 2014.


Comments (1)

  1. boatyarddog

    It is with pleasure and gratitude that we report the House vote on Amendment 710 seeking to change boat excise tax for the worse went down 146 to 1, thanks to Boating Caucus Chairperson Susan Gifford (R), Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D) and all the calls and lobbying. Our statewide influence has been heard thanks to so many voices raised and a bad proposal defeated. Congratulations!

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