Legislature considers doubling boat tax

Apr 15, 2021
Written by Mark Johnson, Senior Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs

Senate Bill 5483 would double the current watercraft excise tax on September 1, 2021. The bill sponsored by Senator Steve Hobbs was heard Monday in the Senate Transportation Committee. I testified in opposition to this provision.

Boaters are currently the only users of the state’s waterways, roadways, and air space that pay a percentage-based excise tax to the state. Owners of cars do not pay this tax to the state anymore, and neither do owners of motor homes, planes, or helicopters. Doubling a tax on the only user group already paying an excise tax to the state is unfair and inappropriate.

Washington is home to a robust and thriving marine trade industry. Thousands of citizens are employed in the building, maintenance, sale and chartering of watercraft. With our abundant waterways – Puget Sound, the San Juans, and countless lakes and rivers – Washington is one of the country’s most active boating states.

Doubling the tax on boaters will have a chilling effect on this important industry. It will also drive the dream of boat ownership out of the range of many hard-working Washington families. WR implores the Transportation Committee and entire legislature to reject doubling the watercraft tax.