If You Live On A Houseboat Do You Pay Taxes?


If You Live On A Houseboat Do You Pay Taxes?

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Houseboat living can be an amazing thing if you are sure and plan ahead for as much as possible. Knowing how much you will spend monthly or yearly to love on a houseboat is important. One thing that you will for sure what to know is how much you will pay in taxes every year. 

As a houseboat owner you will pay taxes via

  • Boat registration 
  • Property tax (on any land you own) 
  • Sales tax
  • Pass through taxes (taxes people pay but pass on the cost to you) 

Taxes is one of those things that is impossible to avoid unless you live entirely off the grid. What taxes you will pay on your houseboat will vary depending on which state you live in or even which country you are in! For this article I will use taxing information for the United States since that is where I live. 

The taxes that you will have to pay to live on your houseboat will depend on:

  • Which state you are in
  • Whether your houseboat is movable
  • Whether you own the land
  • Where you dock or anchor 

There are of course many other things that can affect the taxes you will pay but these are some of the basics. 

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Which State You Are In

Each state will require you to pay a varying tax rates on your vessel. There will be some similarities as most of the yearly taxes will be paid via a boat registration. The price you will have to pay for the registration will normally be dependant on the age, size, and value of your boat. 

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Just like you will pay more for a car’s registration if it is a luxury car or if it is brand new, the same is normally true for houseboats. Of course every state will have different rates so before purchasing a houseboat be sure and contact your local officials to get an estimate for your area. 

Whether Your Houseboat Is Movable

If you own a piece of property and build a floating home on that piece of property your “houseboat” can be taxed just like a normal residence would be. Of course that can vary depending on your state and how picky the local inspectors are but having a stationary houseboat can often cost you far more than a movable one. 

Since movable houseboats are considered recreational vessels then they don’t have to pay property taxes or even follow the building codes that a normal residence would be required to. When a houseboat is built to always stay in one place it can often be deemed a floating home and can become subject to property taxes as well as all of the building codes of your local jurisdiction. 

If at all possible it is a good idea to make sure any houseboat you buy is a moving houseboat. Not only will it help you save on taxes it they are normally more fun too! 

Whether You Own The Land

I mentioned this in the previous section but if you own the land where your houseboat is docked (whether it moves or not) you will have to pay property taxes on that land. Taxes on an undeveloped piece of land are far less than taxes on a house and property so just the taxes on the land will often only run you a few hundred dollars a year depending on your state. 

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Having your own piece of land to dock at can save you a lot of money in marina fees as well as help you live a more self sustaining life on board. If you have some land you could plant a garden, hunt for game, and other things to help you live more “off grid”. 

Where You Dock Or Anchor 

When you pay dock fees or marina fees a portion of those fees will go to taxes. Since the marina is there to make money they will always charge enough to cover their taxes and expenses as well as make a profit. The taxes won’t show on your actual bill but you are certainly helping pay for taxes when you pay them for anything. 

On top of the dock fees being higher because of property taxes you will also have to pay sales tax on everything that you buy. We are all used to paying those taxes as you are required to pay them when you buy just about everything but they are taxes that you will be required to pay nonetheless. 

The taxes that a houseboat owner will pay will normally be similar to what someone who owns a house will pay if you dock at a marina (since you will pay the taxes with increased costs). If you own a piece of property on the water you will save significant money over having a traditional house as the property taxes on land plus the boat registration costs will be considerably less than the costs of property taxes on a house and land. 

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Of course the above is just a general statement as some states have super cheap property taxes while others are quite high. Whatever state you are in it is important to make sure you know what your expenses will be. 

If you are interested in learning more about what expenses to expect on your houseboat you can click here to read my recent article that covers the costs of owning a boat. 

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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