Update and correction: On February 18, the Board of County Supervisors approved an advertised tax rate on boats and boat trailers. On February 25, county staff were directed to advertise a tax rate of .00001 on boats and trailers. We previously reported that the advertised tax would have also applied to RVs.
The boating community is turning its attention to a possible tax increase.
Earlier this week, the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) approved an advertised tax rate of $3.70 per $100 of value for boats, trailers and RV’s.
It’s among the tax increases officials are considering this budget season.
The $3.70 rate is the highest the board can approve. However, it may adopt a lower one.
Hampton’s Landing Marina in Woodbridge is already seeing the ripple effect of the advertised tax rate.
“Even the advertising of this proposed tax rate increase has started a firestorm amongst the boaters in this county,” Owner Terry Hill told What’s Up Prince William. “I have already had customers that were coming to me to sign up a contract for the spring and they’re already questioning whether they want to do that, and they’re … contemplating backing out of bringing their boats here right now, and we haven’t even adopted this tax rate.”
If the rate was approved, according to Hill, community members would move their boats to surrounding counties or Maryland.
This would impact businesses and cause the marinas to shut down.
Many people come to Prince William County to access the water, Hill explained. They even spend their vacation boating.
“A boat is not necessarily a rich man’s sport,” Hill said. “You can buy a boat fairly reasonably, and you can enjoy it fairly reasonably. A tax like this will change that whole environment.”
Here is a transcription of the video:
Terry Hill: Typically it’s a proposal to increase the tax. Right now it’s 0.00001 per hundred on the assessed value of a boat, trailer, RVs. We’re not certain about airplanes at this point in time, but we believe that that may or may or not be in the same group. It was originally, but they are proposing to increase the tax to as much as $3.70 per 100 assessed dollars. Basically it’s going to affect you and your boat. If your boat is here January 1 of every year, this tax would apply to you.
Terry Hill: The $3.70 proposed rate I believe is the cap. That’s the most that they can charge, so they use that as a place holder effectively, in my opinion. What does that mean to you? That means it’s $37 for every thousand dollars of value that your boat is. So what does that mean? The average person with a $20,000 boat, it’s about $740 in tax. That’s pretty close.
Terry Hill: Then you get into a boat that’s say $100,000. Well, that is about a $3,700 tax per year. You’re starting now to get into the same cost as a slip, and effectively once you get over that number, you’re pretty much paying more tax than you actually pay for a slip to park your boat here in the county and enjoy the Prince William County waters and the access that we have.
Terry Hill: Even the advertising of this proposed tax rate increase has started a firestorm amongst the voters in this county. I have already had customers that were coming to me to sign up a contract for the spring, and they’re already questioning whether they want to do that and they’re contemplating backing out of bringing their boats here right now, and we haven’t even adopted this tax rate. So we have to resolve this quickly and we have to get it out to the public. All the slip holders that are here now, they’ll leave. Right now there’s no tax, basically the same effect here. Stafford County is a 0.0001 rate and Fairfax County I think is a 0.05, but it’s a lot less, so the rate is so much less that our boaters will leave Prince William County businesses, the marinas, and they will go to Stafford or Fairfax County or they’ll go to Maryland. Maryland has a 5% one-time tax when you enter the state, and that’s a lot cheaper than what they would be paying here in Prince William County.
Terry Hill: So we know by history that this will have an effect and what the effect will be. It will take boats out of my marina. It will take boats away from our service shops. You’re talking about thousands of people that will be affected business-wise in terms of the employees of these businesses around here and the marine industry. The marinas effectively will shut down because we are already in a very fragile economic environment in this particular locale.
Terry Hill: A lot of people do come to Prince William County because of the lifestyle that they can have here. You have close and quick access to the water, to the Potomac, to the Neabsco, to the Occoquan. They come down and they spend their weekends on their boats. They live right here very close and they choose to buy a house close enough to the water that they don’t have a long drive to get to their boat to enjoy their weekends or their evenings and relax. Boating is a lifestyle. Boating is a way to get out and get away from that 95 traffic and get away from all those hassles and stresses of life, and it’s easy to do here, not so easy in other places, but it is so easy to do here.
Terry Hill: We find so many people from other counties that come here because this is where they can get the access. This is where they enjoy the marina. They enjoy the friends with the boats next to them. In fact, they plan their vacations, they save the money. Instead of going to Hawaii or going to the islands, they come down and they spend the time on their boat. That becomes their vacation spot, their getaway. And a boat is not necessarily a rich man’s sport. You can buy a boat fairly reasonably and you can enjoy it fairly reasonably. A tax like this will change that whole environment.
Terry Hill: There’s a ripple effect, and you don’t think about what does a boater do every day when they go out. So you have a Saturday or a Sunday weekend, they come down to the boat. Well again, we said they live in other counties quite often. There’s Fairfax, Loudoun, depending on where they reside, where they work, but they come here to get away and get on their boat. In any case, once they leave the driveway at their house, they’re stopping by Target and they’re picking up a beach towel or they’re picking up something, suntan lotion. Then they go to Walmart and they pick up a life jacket or a line or something like that. They go to West Marine and they pick up some parts for their boat, and then they go by the grocery store and they pick up some food, the chips, the chicken, the, sandwich meat, the sodas, the ice. They pick all that up and they come down to the boat.
Terry Hill: We have calculated in a survey done many years ago that an average boating day, they spend about $385 on their way to the boat. This doesn’t include the cost of the boat, the insurance for the boat, the slip rental or the gas in the boat. This is simply what they spend along the way to enjoy while they’re out on the boat. That’s a pretty big expenditure, and you figure this goes on every weekend and throughout the season. That’s a lot of money spent. The boaters spend money working on the boats. An average boat is worth about $1,500 to $5,000 in income to a small marine repair business, for us to winterize the boats, to de-winterize them, to tune them up, to do various things and keep them in operating and running condition. So you remove a boat from our slip, and you not only take away the slip rent, but you take away all that ancillary income that flows through the county to and from the boat.