In other words, the bill does not address the original issue which was to cap the excise tax on boats in Maryland. I’m glad the waterways will get a little more funding but this could have been done via a separate measure or amendment.
It’s a shame that Maryland, a state which literally surrounds one of the crown jewels of North American waterways, the Chesapeake Bay, ranked 26th in the nation for boat sales in 2011. There is of course no one reason for this poor ranking but one of them is certainly the tax imposed on boats plying Maryland waters.
Maryland could take a lesson from Florida, a state which in 2010 imposed a sales tax cap of $18,000 on boats sold and kept in the state. What happened after that tax was capped? Sales went up, the value of boats sold went up, and tax revenues increased.
Why should people who can afford these boats get a tax break? It’s easy and in vogue to bash the rich. However, these are the folks that own businesses, employ people and contribute the lions share of this nation’s economic engine.
Arguing against this cap as a break for the rich misses the forest for the trees.
These yacht owners spend 5-10% of the capitol value of their vessel in annual upkeep. That does not include fuel and dockage. Those boats are economic engines in their own right, contributing to the employment of mechanics, shopkeepers, grocers, chandlers, boatyards, and so on. That money is spent and those economic benefits are derived at the vessel’s location. More and more it would appear that Maryland will continue to push these boats and their associated, demonstrated economic benefits away.