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Boat sales topped 250000 in 2016

Posted on March 13th, 2017 Written by Jack Atzinger

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Marking another milestone in its recovery, the U.S. recreational boat industry sold more than 250,000 boats in 2016 for the first time in eight years.

With all 50 states reporting, Statistical Surveys said today that 258,879 boats were sold last year, an increase of 5.4 percent from 2015. The company said the last time industry sales topped a quarter million was in 2008, when 279,139 were sold as the Great Recession started.

A preliminary report Statistical Surveys issued in January said 246,891 boats were sold in 2016 in 27 early-reporting states. The remaining states added about 12,000 to the final total.

Statistical Surveys sales director Ryan Kloppe agreed that topping the 250,000 sales figure was a psychologically important accomplishment for the industry. He said his company predicted sales growth of 4 percent to 6 percent last year, “and it was right in that ballpark.”

The 50-state figures included sales of 169,121 boats in the main powerboat segments, an increase of 5.7 percent from 2015. The main-segments sales were dominated by three categories that have been the group’s best sellers since the recession ended.

Outboard fiberglass boats from 11 to 50 feet were the top-selling category in the main segments at 50,087, up 5.8 percent from 47,351 the previous year. Not far behind were aluminum pontoon boats at 48,564, up 9.4 percent from 44,406 in 2015.

Sales of aluminum fishing boats totaled 47,461, 3.7 percent higher than the previous year, when 45,751 were sold.

“That’s a lot of volume,” Kloppe said. “There were some segments that had really solid years.”

Sales of ski and wake boats, a rising category, rose 11.7 percent to 8,787 from 7,868 the year before, achieving the highest percentage gain among the main segments.

Kloppe expects that outboard fiberglass boats, aluminum pontoons and fishing boats, and ski and wake boats will continue to carry the industry this year.

“We’re predicting a couple more years, at least, of moderate [industrywide] sales growth,” he said.

Kloppe said builders and dealers he spoke with at the recent Miami shows were optimistic about 2017.

“They’re not expecting any hiccups, barring an economic disaster,” he said.

The top-selling category in the overall industry was personal watercraft, which sits outside the main segments. A total of 59,419 PWC were sold last year, a 7.6 percent increase from 55,221 the previous year.

Jetboat sales rose 5.8 percent to 4,721 from 4,463 the previous year.

Sales of inboard and sterndrive boats, which have not fared well in recent years, fell 4.1 percent to 11,538 from 12,027 in 2015.

The Coast Guard was up to date in its reports on documented vessels, providing complete figures for the full year in the bigger-boat categories. Sales of 31- to 40-foot cruisers rose 5.6 percent to 1,504 from 1,424 the previous year. Sales of 41- to 65-foot yachts rose 3.4 percent to 1,035 from 1,001; and sales of 66-foot and larger semicustom and custom yachts fell 7.1 percent to 145 from 156.

Sailboat sales rose 3.9 percent to 2,080 from 2,002.

The industry’s fourth-quarter sales were nearly flat. Sales rose 0.4 percent in the main powerboat segments to 16,733 and they were up 1.3 percent industrywide at 22,842.


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Illinois considers applying sales taxes to more services – The State Journal

If you get your nails done at a salon or have your lawn mulched next spring, the service could be taxed under a plan Illinois lawmakers are considering to help fill a multibillion-dollar hole in the state budget.

The idea comes as part of a proposal to increase state revenue tied to a Senate compromise intended to break the state’s two-year stalemate over an annual spending plan. The “grand bargain” stalled last month before the revenue measure came to a vote. But lawmakers say they’ll keep working on the plan.

The provision would tax eight service categories at the same 6.25 percent rate applied to most sales in Illinois. These newly taxable services constitute the second-largest source of annual funding in the proposal after the revenue bill’s income tax increase.

Here’s what the sales tax expansion would do:

Lagging behind its neighbors

Illinois has one of the narrowest tax bases in the nation — a potential problem for a state that, according to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, is more dependent on services than any of its Great Lakes neighbors.

The commission reports that Illinois taxes only 17 services compared to a national average of 56. And 12 of those come from public utilities levied under separate statutes such as the gas tax. Sales taxes do apply to five services including photo processing and car rentals. But that total puts Illinois behind all other surrounding states.

Democratic Sen. Toi Hutchinson of Olympia Fields, the bill’s sponsor, said lawmakers selected only services taxed elsewhere in the Midwest to ensure Illinois remains competitive.

She said Wisconsin — a Republican-led state that applies a sales tax to 16 service categories — served as a model to help build bipartisan support. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he is open to mirroring Wisconsin’s model.

Hutchinson contends rolling out service taxes will allow Illinois to catch up with a modern, service-based economy.

“Our economy used to be things we made,” she said. “Now, it’s things we do.”

Building a broader tax base

Hutchinson’s proposal would tax the use of storage space, including parking garages and boat docks; repairs and maintenance of personal property such as cars; landscaping services such as sprinkler installation and snow removal; dry-cleaning; cable TV, satellite and digital streaming services; pest control; use of a private detective or installation of a home security system; and personal care, ranging from tanning to tattooing but not including hairstyling. Some states tax other major services such as internet access and gym memberships. Illinois would not.

Taxing these services was originally projected to bring in $360 million per year, but an adjusted estimate now places that number at $291 million — a smaller piece of the $6 billion puzzle Hutchinson’s revenue bill must complete to help balance the budget.

Tom Johnson, president emeritus of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, said taxing services is a commonsense place to start because it targets purchases made most often by those with more disposable income.

“Adding services to a sales tax base will always make the tax less regressive,” Johnson said.

The pros and cons

Hutchinson says lawmakers are past due for a frank conversation on raising revenue as social service providers and universities await state funds and Illinois’ budget deficit grows by $11 million each day.

“Nobody can balance the budget on only one side of the books,” she said.

But Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch questions the practice of targeting selected services for taxation.

“Every taxpayer should be very concerned when state government decides to pick winners and losers,” he said, adding that the tax would make small businesses less productive and crimp employee earnings.

Daniel Swaar, a 30-year-old landscaping business owner in Mason City, Illinois, heard about the proposed tax last month. He said it would mean pay cuts and longer hours for him and his twin brother, who co-owns and operates the business, because area homeowners cannot afford to pay higher prices.

“If we did that, we’d start losing business,” he said.

The bill is SB9: http://bit.ly/2nngEd2.


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