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Thread: Whittier Personal Property Tax (Boats and Vessels)

  1. #1
    Member AK_Kid's Avatar
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    Default Whittier Personal Property Tax (Boats and Vessels)

    I have an annual transient moorage agreement to keep my boat in Whittier Harbor. This year, the City of Whittier sent me a nastygram indicating that since I have a transient moorage agreement, my boat is subject to personal property taxation by the City. I wonder whether any of you folks have fought this fight with the City of Whittier before, and if so whether you can provide some feedback.

    My position has always been that the tax situs of my boat is the Mat-Su Borough. My boat is located in the Mat-Su Borough from about January 1 - May 15 of each year. We keep it in Big Lake, where my father (who owns 50% of the boat) lives. From about May 15 to September 15, a total of four months, we maintain the boat in Whittier Harbor. From September 15 to December 31, it is back at Burkeshore Marina on Big Lake for storage. The boat is located in the Mat-Su Borough eight months out of the year, including January 1 - the same jurisdiction in which the boat was registered and in which one of the owners lives (I live in Anchorage). The only connection between the vessel and Whittier is the limited time it spends in the harbor for about four months of each year.

    The City is bleeding folks dry already with moorage and launch fees and sales tax. They get about $2,000 of my hard-earned dollars each year already. I'm all in favor of paying for city services when I use them, but the City doesn't even keep the floats in a halfway decent condition. Needless to say, I'm not about to hand the City more of my money unless I must.

    I think I, and others like me, have a good argument that the tax situs of our boats is not in Whittier, but rather in the jurisdiction in which our boats spend most of the year, especially when that is the jurisdiction in which it was registered and in which one or more of the owners lives. However, I'm not a CPA or tax attorney. Hopefully, somebody can shed some light on this for me. Thanks.

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    I can not answer for Whittier, but I keep my boat in Homer harbor the same time frame you keep yours in Whittier. I live outside of Homer in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and pay only Kenai Peninsula Burrow personal property tax on the boat. I would not think that one city/borough could do it one way and another city/borough do it another way. But you have to remember you are dealing with Whittier. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.
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    Member MRFISH's Avatar
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    AK kid, good luck. I'm not a lawyer, but I think they can assess a property tax even if it's not there year-round (your moorage agreement "parks" your property there). If I'm not mistaken, Valdez assesses a property tax on the oil tankers that transit their port...and I think that tax was challenged in court and upheld. Similar, even though it's on a different scale...

    Giving up your transient agreement would render that moot, but you probably don't want to do that. How much are they trying to hit you up for as the property tax? Is it a flat rate or scaled by vessel length, or is it a % based on their estimated value of your boat?

  4. #4

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    They get you coming and going. Your good fortune to be a slip holder allows them to tack on the property tax which is typically 0.5% of the declared value that you enter on the slip holder agreement. You are probably better off just sucking it up and paying the tax, if you decide not to pay, the habormaster could take possession of your boat for unpaid fees...check out the Whittier Boat harbor Policy & Procedures, Rules and Regulations http://www.whittieralaska.gov/small_boat_harbor.html. I am surprised that they have not tried to send out property tax notices to folks who store their boats in the parking areas for the summer.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rhorn View Post
    I am surprised that they have not tried to send out property tax notices to folks who store their boats in the parking areas for the summer.
    Don't give them any ideas.

    AK Kid, you may want to spend a few bucks and talk to a tax attorney. I would also send a letter to Whittier asking them to explain their justification as your place of residence is Mat-Su.

    Please keep us informed!

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    Again this sounds like double taxation and the last I knew this is not legal.

    Okay here is a what if. I take my boat up to my son's in Palmer (outside city limits) and store it there for a short time, does that give the borough there the right to asses me personal property tax on my boat while it is there? I do not think so, so what is the difference here with Whittier, other than they want more money?

    May be Whittier has a different word they use other than "Personal Property Tax" and can asses it that way?
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    Member AkBillyBow's Avatar
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    I cannot help you with the tax issue, but have one pointer for you. As per the rules of having a slip in Whittier, it states that the person who the slip is issued to must own at least 51% of the boat docked there. Your 50% statement could be held against you, so I would "list" it as 51% owner of the boat as the person the slip is issued to. Don't want them to have another avenue to attack you with!! I am interested in what replies you get, as I am on the wait list in Whittier.

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    I think I remember reading somewhere, it may have been Seward or Valdez, that if my boat was kept there more then 30 days then I would be assesed Personal Property Tax. That was one of the reasons for not ever getting a slip and never staying moored longer then 30 days at a time.

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    where is all the money going in whittier they are pulling in millions selling water to cruise ships,raping everyone who uses any facility there,trying to block acess to public property or charging for acess to it.

  10. #10

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    You signed the moorage agreement.
    This is one of the terms you signed up for.
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  11. #11
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    It used to be where the boat sat January 1 was the primary jurisdiction so if you pay a property tax in Mat Su, you don't have to pay another. Whittier may get around that with their slip agreement and since Anchorage exempts boats now, you can't claim double taxation so there you go, they're targeting the Anchorage transient boats.

    BTW, the Valdez tanker tax was overturned, a rare win for the oil companies fighting taxes in Alaska.

  12. #12
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Write a letter and get them to explain.

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    Default How much are they going to pay to clean your boat?

    I was over to launch Sunday night...heavy equipment digging away...harbor smells and looks like the Exxon Valdez is docked in there with the hole in the bottom. Just launching covered my boat in oil and sludge. The smell is horrible and no wonder they are working at night!
    I got home and my boat is covered with oil on the sides... so much for spring cleaning!

  14. #14
    Member ocnfish's Avatar
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    I kept the Osprey in downtown Seward for about two years, the borough & city caught up with me. Kenai borough was tax based on boat length, & and a city of Seward tax based upon the value of the boat ... Oh yea ... lets not forget the 7 dollar per month sales tax on the storage space every month. Between the storage space for plane boat and taxes I decided to buy a storage space big enough for both, the condo dues is a little more money than I was paying before, but my toys are inside and 60 degrees throughout the winter.

    Of course the big downside is trailering the boat to a place to launch.

    Opinion .... some of these local governments are killing their own economic development by "soaking the rich". I will make fewer trips hauling an 8,000 lb boat, stay in fewer hotels, eat fewer meals and find a mechanic in the Anchorage area to to maintenance etc.

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