Sailor’s delight: Christie proposes 50% sales tax cut for boat buyers

TRENTON — In a nod to the Jersey Shore, Gov. Chris Christie on Monday proposed a 50 percent sales tax cut on all boats and other vessels sold in New Jersey, greatly expanding a proposal by lawmakers to cap taxes on yachts.

The Legislature in June passed a bill (S2784) to cap sales tax on yachts at $20,000, which would provide relief only for those who purchase high-end boats for more than approximately $286,000. The proposal was criticized as a tax break for the wealthy.

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In a conditional veto, Christie, a 2016 presidential contender, said the bill provided no relief to “individuals, including middle-class citizens, who purchase smaller boats.”

“Lowering taxes on New Jersey residents and supporting the continued economic growth of our shore communities following the impact of Superstorm Sandy are laudable goals,” Christie said in a his veto message. “However, I do not believe this bill goes far enough in accomplishing these goals.”

The non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimated the Legislature’s original proposal would have cost $1 million to $2 million per year in revenue. It’s not clear how much Christie’s new proposal would cost state coffers.

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a liberal think tank that criticized the original proposal, said Christie’s proposal will still disproportionately benefit the wealthy while costing state taxpayers millions of dollars more.

Christie’s proposal also would allow residents who purchase boats in another state for use outside of New Jersey to dock at New Jersey marinas for up to 30 days without paying the state’s use tax. The Legislature sought a 90-day grace period.

The proposal, met favorably by sponsors of the original bill, now goes back to the Legislature for consideration.

Christopher Baxter may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @cbaxter1. Find Politics on Facebook.

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