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Registering the Kayaks

A woman from the PA Fish and Boat Commission called me Friday regarding my two applications for kayak registration. You know, the kayaks (here and here) that I bought in Florida while I was living in Florida.

She told me that because the boats were relatively new (March, 2004 being the newer of the two), I'd have to pay PA sales tax on them at their fair market value or produce a purchase order which shows that I've already paid sales tax (presumably she meant Florida sales tax).

What the heck makes PA think they're entitled to sales tax on kayaks I purchased in another state? It's already been paid. It's very easy to prove that I did indeed live in Florida when the kayaks were posted. My tax returns, for one…

At this point, I'm not entirely sure what to do. I could find a dealer to assess the two $600 boats at a "fair market value" of $300 or something and pay the sales tax, but that just seems to go against the principle of the thing. Or perhaps I can see if the places from which I bought them still have receipts (highly unlikely - and what would I do if I bought one over the Internet and from out of state and didn't pay sales tax back then).

I can't help but feel screwed by the PA over this. This is ridiculous. It's stupid that I need to register kayaks to begin with and it's ludicrious to think PA feels entitled to sales tax on items that weren't sold in PA or to a resident of PA.

18 Responses to "Registering the Kayaks"

  1. I have a friend with a similar problem. He lived in NH and bought an RV even took a couple vacations in it. Then moved to CA and used the RV to drive his wife and dogs while moving van did the rest. When he went to register the RV in CA he was forced to pay CA sales tax as if he had purchased it in CA.

    In his case there was some kind of time window involved. Like he bought it nine months before moving and if it had been X months he would not have to. Ridiculous nonetheless.

  2. [quote comment="43365"]But you would have to prove that you had paid sales tax on the boat in order to register it within PA. It's the same thing with registering a car that you bought out of state.[/quote]

    No, it's not the same. I bought the kayaks while living in Florida. It's Florida's obligation to make sure I paid the sales tax, not PA's, and it's reasonable to assume that sometime in the 1-2 years I was living in Florida, I bought the boat.

  3. It's fairly simple, actually -- if they didn't do this, folks would just nip over into states with lower sales taxes before buying anything expensive. Three years is a bit long, though. California's timeline is nine months, as Mark described.

    I have a friend whose parents live in New Mexico. He bought a new car there and had them keep it for longer than California's timeline just to avoid California taxes on it.

  4. [quote comment="43368"]It's fairly simple, actually -- if they didn't do this, folks would just nip over into states with lower sales taxes before buying anything expensive. [/quote]

    There ought to be a difference between going to another state to buy something and actually living in another state when you bought it. If I live in Florida and buy something in Florida and then I happen to move to Pennsylvania sometime later, why should they have any right to the sales tax? What's next collecting back income tax on the years I lived in that other state?


  5. [quote comment="43368"]It's fairly simple, actually -- if they didn't do this, folks would just nip over into states with lower sales taxes before buying anything expensive.[/quote]

    Mark responds to one part of this comment, but the other part is this: a $500 or $600 kayak isn't expensive.

    [quote comment="43369"]What's next collecting back income tax on the years I lived in that other state?[/quote]

    Yeah, seriously, particularly since Florida doesn't have a state income tax. 😛

  6. They don't care about your kayaks, but they do care about more expensive jet skis, sailboats, motor boats, and yachts. I bet they require this for every vehicle that you register.

    I'm wondering why you're registering your kayaks. I know that kayaks definitely do not need to be registered in any state near me. Does PA really require kayak registrations? Would anyone ever check anyway?

    1. Michigan did not require us to register kayaks but Ohio does. Odd, Michigan has more lakes and rivers yet they didn't ask for that tax. Ohio, on the other hand is requiring registration

  7. [quote comment="43372"]I'm wondering why you're registering your kayaks.[/quote]

    You must have either a registration or a launch permit. The latter costs almost as much as the former and provides less benefit.

  8. I think this is mostly done to prevent folks from zipping over to sales tax-less Delaware (particularly those down here in Philly) and depriving PA of their "hard earned" tax dollars.

    When I leased my car in Philadelphia, I paid Florida sales tax because I registered it in Florida (I was a student and would have needed a PA license to register PA plates, which in turn requires proof of residency which I did not possess). Vehicle registration is an easy way to enforce residency and keeps people accountable, though I do agree that 3+ years is a long enough time to warrant avoidance of sales tax. I think the "grace" period on cars is much shorter, close to or less than 6 months, so it's strange that the period for kayaks is that much longer. At the very least, you have proof via the registrations that you didn't just buy them yesterday.

  9. I'll bet if you contact the Florida merchant they will be able to help you. I would think that even if they didn't have an original receipt, they would produce a document verifying your purchase, payment of taxes, etc.

    You should also consult a tax attorney or accountant just to be sure they aren't stretching the rules. There may be a caveat that if you can prove you were a resident of the other state when you bought them, etc., that you are ok.

    PA is run by attorneys.

  10. Update of sorts: I managed to, uhhhhh, obtain receipts which show I paid Florida sales tax and my registrations should be mailed out tomorrow.

  11. This is so rediculous, having to register a kayak makes me wonder if everyone running this country is a complete moron. I live in oklahoma and have been kayaking for about 3 years. I own 2 kayaks and it never crossed my mind you would have to tag them. I just recently discovered this and refuse to tag them. I paid tax when i first bought them and that should be the end of it. You dont have to register and tag a bicycle, now do ya?

    -We needa revolution

  12. Actually, Swen, many cities do require registration of bicycles. I lived in Saint Petersburg, FL for four years, and you had to register and tag your bike. Absolutely ridiculous.

  13. I think all these permits are rediculous. I pay tax dollars to help maintain a local lake which I use my kayak on and i'm still supposed to pay more fees to have it registered? Corruption! Before i obtained a permit I took it out one time just to feel it out and was pulled over by a PAFBC cowboy and fined $70 for not having a launch permit or registration. Totally bogus

    1. Corruption?? in PA?? you've gotta be joking ;o)
      This is very dull, although I had been told the fine was the equivalent of the cost of registering... $70 makes me think twice. I doubt I can find my receipts from 2004 when I bought my 2 kiwi's in Maryland.
      This is a clear money-grab. My friend had her registered kayaks stolen and the dept laughed at her when she reported the theft. PA should be promoting the use of non-powered vessels and recreation in general. Not penalizing people with their dullness.


  15. you people are nutz- first off to all you crybabys about the tax issue, PA wants to be sure that tax was paid to the fullest of our 6% thats it if you only paid 4% in flordia then you should have to pay the remaing 2% here in PA to use the state waterways- someone else said 'we pay taxes to go to the parks' do you know how verylittle of our state taxes actually goes to to the parks????NEXT TO NOTHING!!! hence all the parks closing down... and to all you dont have to register your kayak in PA you can register it or get a launch permit BUT ONLY for state parks- go to any private place and dont--BUT WHY WOULDNT YOU WANT TO PAY A LOUSLY$18 for 2 years TO USE ANY STATE WATER IN ANY STATE AND CANADA?????? STOP COMPLAINING AND SUPPORT YOU LOCAL STATE PARKSBECAUSE IF YOU DONT THEY WONT BE AROUND FOR MUCH LONGER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. You sir Mark sound like the crybaby. So respectfully fuck off