I always thought that was a stupid saying. Now thanks to Washington State tax law, it is true for us. We've been researching the in and outs of coming home and have hit a nasty little roadblock called the WA State Use Tax. Let me explain.
We bought our boat in CA. Now two years later we want to return to US waters. We are legally WA state residents though we have not lived there or voted there for two years and we sold our primary residence, but we do still hold WA State Driver's Licenses. Since we are WA state residents, the moment we enter WA state waters we are liable to pay the WA State Use Tax on the "Blue Book" value of our boat. It is equivalent to the WA state sales tax so it is anywhere from 7.9 to 9.5%, depending on where you register your boat. That's a lot of money! If we had that kind of money to spend, we would be sailing in the Mediterranean!
On the other hand, Alaska charges a flat fee for registering a boat for use on their waters. It's $24.00. You have to pay it if you are planning to stay 90 days or longer. I think that is an annual fee, so look out folks, plan ahead.
So for all our family and friends, here's fair warning. We may be coming up to the PNW within the year, but you won't be seeing us in WA waters until we figure this out. We are interested in moving to Alaska and that could be one solution. Once we are non-residents, we can enter WA waters for 60 days. You can then apply for another sixty days, but after that time period is up you have to get your boat out of WA waters or you get nailed with the Use Tax again. OUCH! that is a lot of money to pay for the pleasure of exploring WA waterways.
5 months ago