California vs. Florida

The purchase of Harmonie falls into a strange world as far as the collection of sales tax goes.  She was purchased in Florida. If you buy a boat in Florida, are not a Florida resident, and take the boat out of state for at least a year, you do not owe Florida tax. Yippee!  The only documentation Florida wanted to see was a fuel purchase or marina receipt showing that the boat had left the state before the required date.  They also offered an exemption on the “leave for a year” rule.  If you are having work done at a boatyard in the state, they are happy to have you back to take your money.  We are working under that rule right now.

Finally, every correspondence you get from the tax office in Florida comes signed by an individual, with an invitation to call if you have questions.  We have done that, to confirm our exemption under the “boatyard rule” was appropriate and they were very helpful.  Even returned our calls!

California… lovely liberal, progressive California… so very, very, NOT helpful.

The rules in California are similar.  If you live in California and by a boat that you keep out of state, you owe no sales tax.  Fair enough.  By searching through boat sales records, they trolled up the fact that Harmonie was sold to a California resident, and they sent a tax bill. Not only that, they sent paperwork to the sellers demanding information from THEM.  People who don’t live in California, haven’t been to California, and haven’t done business in California. Really? Why would they talk to you?

Included on the tax bill were the various exemptions.  We check off the one that applied, sent them the documentation they requested showing the sale occurred in Florida, and the boat was delivered in Florida, and signed an affidavit saying the boat was bought “for use outside of California.”  Done!


We get a note back.  If you say the boat isn’t in California you have to prove it, and not just that it wasn’t here, but you have to prove that it was out of the state for all 12 months. Now, nothing you get from California has anyone’s name on it.  Nobody is accountable for your account.  Signed “The Franchise Tax Board”.  And of course, if WE can’t PROVE the boat wasn’t here, THEY are going to hit us with a huge tax bill (plus interest) we can’t fight.

We spend a lot of time at anchor, not in marinas, and as a sailboat we buy fuel very infrequently (twice this year so far)  So we don’t have a continuous trail of receipts with boat ID on them we can send.  Hopefully they are smart enough to understand that a sailboat that was on the east coast in March, July, and November couldn’t have gotten to California in the between time!

And… How are our projects going?  Progress, slow and steady…

  1. # Bow thruster maintenance, including electric motor inspection.
  2. * Raw water manifold disassembly and inspection.
  3. * New zincs on the rudder.
  4. Grease the feathering propeller.
  5. Install new speed sensor thru-hull fitting.
  6. * Improve installation of in-hull depth transducer.
  7. Install new instrument display.
  8. Delrin plate to protect deck from anchor chain.
  9. Mark both anchor rodes for length.
  10. * Lubricate seacocks.
  11. Install second water pump.
  12. Install upgraded anchor wash pump.
  13. Tighten middle hatch support spring.
  14. # Wash and wax hull
  15. Paint transom bumper.
  16. * Straighten bent rail.
  17. Install arch and solar panels.
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1 Response to California vs. Florida

  1. Lathe says:

    Bill, we had the same issue with California taxes. But for us it was property taxes they wanted for 2 years after we left California. Because we also spent most of our time at anchor, we had no marina receipts to prove we were in Mexico. So they put a lean on my boat. It took 3 months, dozens of phone calls and about 40 emails to resolve.

    Liked by 1 person

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