Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
7/23/2017

Virginia Watercraft Sales and Use Tax

§ 58.1-1400. Title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Virginia Watercraft Sales and Use Tax Act."

Code 1950, § 58-685.39; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-1401. Definitions.

As used in this chapter, unless the context clearly shows otherwise, the term or phrase:

"Dealer" means any watercraft dealer as defined in § 29.1-801.

"Gross receipts" means the amount received for the lease, charter, or other use of any watercraft. The term shall include hourly rental, maintenance, and all other charges for use of any watercraft and charges for pilots crew, or other services, unless separately stated on the invoice. The term shall also include the amount by which the price estimated under § 58.1-1403 exceeds the charge actually made.

"Sale" means any transfer of ownership or possession of a watercraft by exchange or barter, conditional or otherwise, in any manner. The term shall also include (i) a transaction whereby possession is transferred but title is retained by the seller as security, (ii) any lease or rental for a period of time substantially equal to the remaining life of the watercraft, and (iii) any lease or rental requiring total payments by the lessee during the lease or rental period which substantially equals the value of the watercraft. The term shall not include a transfer of ownership or possession made to secure the payment of an obligation.

"Sale price" means the total price paid for a watercraft and all attachments thereon and accessories thereto, exclusive of any federal manufacturer's excise tax, without any allowance or deduction for trade-ins or unpaid liens or encumbrances.

"Watercraft" means any vessel propelled by machinery whether or not the machinery is the principal source of propulsion. The term shall also include any sail-powered vessel which is in excess of eighteen feet in length measured along the centerline. The term shall not include a seaplane on the water or a watercraft which has a valid marine titling document issued by the United States Coast Guard.

Code 1950, § 58-685.40; 1981, c. 405; 1984, cc. 418, 675; 1997, c. 877.

§ 58.1-1401.1. When motor deemed a watercraft.

Any motor used to power a watercraft as defined in § 58.1-1401 and sold separately from such watercraft shall be deemed a watercraft for purposes of this chapter.

1994, c. 443.

§ 58.1-1402. Tax levied.

There is hereby levied and imposed, in addition to all other taxes and fees of every kind now imposed by law, a tax upon the sale of every watercraft sold in this Commonwealth, upon the use in this Commonwealth of any watercraft and upon the gross receipts from the lease, charter or other use of any watercraft by a registered dealer in this Commonwealth. The amount of the tax to be collected shall be determined by applying the following rate against the sale price, market value or gross receipts:

1. Two percent of the sale price of each watercraft sold in the Commonwealth.

2. Two percent of the sale price of each watercraft not sold in the Commonwealth but required to be titled in the Commonwealth. However, if the watercraft is first required to be titled in the Commonwealth six months or more after its acquisition, the tax shall be two percent of the market value of such watercraft at the time it is titled.

3. Two percent of the gross receipts from the lease, charter or other use of any watercraft by a registered dealer.

The maximum tax levied under subdivisions 1 and 2 of this section shall be $2,000. A transaction taxed under subdivision 1 shall not be taxed under subdivision 2 or 3, nor shall the same transaction be taxed more than once under either subdivision 1, 2 or 3. Use of any watercraft by a registered dealer resulting in taxation under subdivision 3 shall not exempt any subsequent sale or use of such watercraft from being taxed under subdivision 1 or 2 if applicable.

Code 1950, §§ 58-685.41, 58-685.44; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675; 1987, c. 516; 1990, c. 666.

§ 58.1-1403. Basis of tax; estimate of tax; penalty for misrepresentation.

A. The Tax Commissioner shall assess and collect the tax for the use or sale of a watercraft pursuant to subdivisions 1 and 2 of § 58.1-1402 upon the basis of the sale price of such watercraft.

Any person who sells a watercraft in this Commonwealth shall supply the buyer with an invoice, signed by the seller or his representative, which shall state the sale price of the watercraft. The buyer shall present such invoice to the Tax Commissioner with his return and payment of the tax.

B. The Tax Commissioner shall assess and collect the tax on the lease or charter of a watercraft by a registered dealer on the basis of the gross receipts arising from all transactions pertaining to the lease, charter or other use of such watercraft during the preceding calendar month. The dealer shall submit a return to the Tax Commissioner showing the gross receipts arising from such transactions. The dealer shall remit with such return the amount of tax due.

C. In any case where (i) the invoice is not available, (ii) the Tax Commissioner has reason to believe that an invoice or return does not reflect the true sales price, or (iii) the watercraft was purchased more than six months prior to its use or storage in the Commonwealth, the Tax Commissioner may assess the tax in accordance with such publications or other data as are customarily employed in ascertaining the maximum sale price of watercraft. Where the Tax Commissioner finds that a charge for the rental, lease, charter or use of watercraft has been lower than the fair market value of such use, the Tax Commissioner may estimate a fair price in accordance with the cost of the watercraft, the cost of maintenance, the normal rental value as shown in similar transactions, or other relevant data.

Any person who knowingly misrepresents the value of a watercraft or the amount of tax due to the Tax Commissioner or any return or invoice shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, §§ 58-685.44, 58-685.47; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-1404. Exemptions.

A. Any watercraft sold to or used by the United States or any of the governmental agencies thereof or the Commonwealth of Virginia or any political subdivision thereof or sold to an insurance company for the sole purpose of disposition when such insurance company has paid the registered owner of such watercraft on a total loss claim shall be exempt from the tax imposed by this chapter.

B. Any person who was the owner of a watercraft that was not required to be titled prior to January 1, 1998, shall apply for a title for such watercraft without incurring liability for the tax imposed under this chapter.

C. Any watercraft constructed by a commercial waterman for his own use shall be exempt from the tax imposed under this chapter.

D. Any registered dealer in watercraft shall be exempt from the tax imposed by subdivisions 1 and 2 of § 58.1-1402. Such dealer shall also be exempt from titling requirements as provided in § 29.1-733.6.

E. Any watercraft purchased by and for the use of a volunteer fire department or volunteer emergency medical services agency not conducted for profit shall be exempt from the tax imposed under this chapter.

F. Any watercraft transferred to trustees of a revocable inter vivos trust, when the owners of the watercraft and the beneficiaries of the trust are the same persons, regardless of whether other beneficiaries may also be named in the trust instrument, or transferred by trustees of such a trust to beneficiaries of the trust following the death of the grantor, when no consideration has passed between the grantor and the beneficiaries in either case, shall be exempt from the tax imposed under this chapter.

Code 1950, §§ 58-685.44 to 58-685.46; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675; 1986, c. 545; 1988, c. 314; 1997, c. 877; 2000, c. 602; 2013, c. 787; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 58.1-1405. Time for payment of tax.

A. Except as provided in paragraph B of this section, the tax levied pursuant to this chapter shall be paid by the purchaser or user of such watercraft and collected by the Tax Commissioner at the time the owner is required to apply to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for a title. Except as otherwise provided in § 58.1-1404, no title shall be issued unless the applicant for title shows to the satisfaction of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that such tax has been paid.

B. The tax on the gross receipts from the lease or charter of watercraft shall be paid by the registered dealer collecting such receipts to the Commissioner on or before the twentieth day of each month following the month in which such receipts were collected.

Code 1950, §§ 58-685.44, 58-685.46; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675; 1997, c. 877.

§ 58.1-1406. Dealers' certificates of registration.

A. Every person who qualifies as a dealer under Chapter 8 (§ 29.1-800 et seq.) of Title 29.1 and desires to transfer ownership in watercraft without obtaining a certificate of title shall file with the Tax Commissioner an application for a certificate of registration for each place of business in this Commonwealth.

B. Every application for a certificate of registration shall be made upon a form prescribed by the Commissioner and shall set forth (i) the name under which the applicant transacts or intends to transact business, (ii) the location of his place or places of business, and (iii) such other information as the Commissioner may require. The application shall be signed by the owner if a natural person; in the case of an association or partnership, by a member or partner; and, in the case of a corporation, by an executive officer or some person specifically authorized by the corporation to sign the application.

C. When the required application has been made the Commissioner shall issue to each applicant a separate certificate of registration for each place of business within this Commonwealth. A certificate of registration is not assignable and is valid only for the person in whose name it is issued and for the transaction of business at the place designated therein. It shall be at all times conspicuously displayed at the place for which issued.

D. Whenever any person fails to comply with any provision of this chapter or any rule or regulation of the Tax Commissioner relating thereto, the Commissioner, upon hearing after giving such person ten days' notice in writing, specifying the time and place of hearing and requiring him to show cause why his certificate of registration should not be revoked or suspended, may revoke or suspend any one or more of the certificates of registration held by such person. The notice may be personally served or served by registered mail directed to the last known address of such person.

E. Only those dealers who hold a current certificate of registration hereunder shall be authorized to transfer ownership of a watercraft without obtaining a certificate of title therein, and paying the tax imposed by this chapter.

F. If the holder of a certificate of registration ceases to conduct his business at the place specified in his certificate, the certificate shall thereupon expire. The holder of such certificate shall inform the Commissioner in writing within thirty days after he has ceased to conduct business at such place that he has so ceased. However, if the holder of a certificate of registration desires to change his place of business to another place in this Commonwealth, he shall so inform the Commissioner in writing and his certificate shall be revised accordingly without charge.

Code 1950, § 58-685.43; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-1407. Retention of documents.

Any person who sells a watercraft in this Commonwealth shall retain a copy of the invoice required by § 58.1-1403 for three years following such sale. Any person taxed as a dealer under § 58.1-1402 shall retain a copy of all invoices for lease, charter or other usage of watercraft for three years following such transaction. Each invoice shall give an accurate description of the watercraft sold, leased or used.

Code 1950, § 58-685.48; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-1408. Civil penalties and interest.

When any person fails to make any return or pay the full amount of tax required by § 58.1-1402 within thirty days of the required filing and payment date, there shall be imposed, in addition to other penalties provided herein, a penalty to be added to the tax in the amount of six percent of the unpaid tax. An additional six percent of the tax due shall be charged for each additional thirty-day period, or fraction thereof, after sixty days, during which the failure to make any return or pay the full amount of tax continues. Such additional penalty shall not exceed thirty percent in the aggregate.

If any such failure is due to providential or other good cause, shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, the return, with remittance, shall be accepted exclusive of such penalties, but with interest determined in accordance with § 58.1-15.

In the case of a false or fraudulent return, where willful intent exists to defraud the Commonwealth of any tax due under this chapter, or in the case of willful failure to file a return with the intent to defraud the Commonwealth of any such tax, a penalty of fifty percent of the amount of the proper tax shall be assessed. It shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud the Commonwealth of any tax due under this chapter when any purchaser or user of a watercraft reports the sale price or current market value of his watercraft, as the case may be, at fifty percent or less of the actual amount. It shall also be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud the Commonwealth of any tax due under this chapter when any dealer reports the gross receipts collected from the lease, charter or other use of watercraft at fifty percent or less of the actual amount received for such lease, charter or use.

All penalties and interest imposed by this chapter shall be payable by the purchaser or user of the watercraft and collectible by the Commissioner in the same manner as if they were a part of the tax imposed.

Interest, at a rate determined in accordance with § 58.1-15, on the unpaid amount of the tax from the day after the last day for timely filing and payment of the tax shall accrue until the same is paid.

Code 1950, §§ 58-685.42, 58-685.44; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675; 1991, cc. 316, 331.

§ 58.1-1409. Credit against tax.

A credit shall be granted against the tax imposed by this chapter with respect to a person's use in this Commonwealth of a watercraft purchased by him in another state, or purchased by him in this Commonwealth if the state sales tax was paid thereon. The amount of the credit shall be equal to the tax paid by him to another state by reason of the imposition of a similar tax on his purchase or use of the property, or the sales tax paid to this Commonwealth. The amount of the credit shall not exceed the tax imposed by this chapter.

Code 1950, § 58-685.49; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675.

§ 58.1-1410. Disposition of funds.

Funds collected hereunder by the Tax Commissioner shall be paid into the general fund of the state treasury and allocated to the game protection fund in the following manner:

aFor Fiscal YearPercentage of Collections
b199650%
c199750%
d199850%
e199975%
f2000 and thereafter100%

Not later than thirty days after the close of each quarter, the Comptroller shall transfer to the game protection fund the appropriate percentage of collections to be dedicated to such fund. The Comptroller may make such adjustments as necessary in subsequent quarters subject to the audit report of the Auditor of Public Accounts.

Such funds shall be made available only to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for the following: boating-related activities and expenses, and to enhance and improve recreation opportunities for boaters, including but not limited to land acquisition, capital projects, maintenance, and facilities for boating access to the waters of the Commonwealth; boating safety law enforcement, including salaries, benefits, equipment and overtime expenses for conservation police officers so assigned; boating and other aquatic resource educational activities, including personnel, and education and safety materials; boating-related expenses for required reporting to federal and state officials; information management costs, including personnel, hardware, and software needed to better serve boating customers; and related administrative costs for boating-related activities, including human resources, accounting, public relations, administration and facilities to support and house necessary boating-related personnel and equipment.

Code 1950, § 58-685.50; 1981, c. 405; 1984, c. 675; 1994, c. 322; 1997, c. 877.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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