Recreational Boat Tax Revisited

George Samalot, President of the Hudson Valley Marine Trades Association, is working with ESMTA to enact a more realistic tax structure for recreational vehicles in New York State. The issue -- eliminating the state sales tax for boat purchases over $239,000 -- has been around for some four years now, and George disputes the notion that it’s a “tax loophole for the rich,” as the New York Times described it, and says it actually not an effort to cut a “Luxury Tax,” but rather an “everyday tourism tax.”

In an exchange of correspondence with Hudson Valley Assemblyman James Skoufis, George raised the issue that he believes is vital to the financial wellbeing of marine dealers statewide -- namely adopting a recreational sales tax structure similar to the one in place in neighboring New Jersey.

George proposed that the current sales tax credit in New York State be made to replicate that of New Jersey with regard to recreational boats. New York currently charges sales tax on the first $234,000 of the purchase of a boat, and hat amount there is no further tax. New Jersey has a 3.25% sales tax for any recreational boat.

“I have always thought the current tax law for recreational yachts in New York State is a move in the right direction,” George noted, “but currently, post Sandy, this new tax break offers nothing to the Hudson Valley Boat dealers.”

“Prior to Hurricane Sandy we were all enjoying selling boats that exceeded $234,000 & this new law would have benefited us all. Now doing business selling recreational vessels in the Hudson River Valley, not too many of us (if any at all) are offering yachts of this value,” he added.

George suggested that if the State would consider what New Jersey has done at 3.25% for any & all recreational boats, “that could be a nice boost for the current boat dealers in the Hudson Valley.”

Assemblyman Skoufis replied that he thought the idea was thoughtful and prudent, but noted the significant backlash in the State assembly when sales tax-free reform was last enacted for boats costing more than $234,000. He indicated there did not seem to be many legislative colleagues eager to revisit the subject.

(You can reach George with your comments or ideas at and Tim Sheridan at