Fees for boat/trailer registration seem ridiculous

The accompanying picture shows my boat. It might not be impressive to those of you who like fast, curvy ski boats, but it is the craft of my dreams.

Like most states, Utah requires that boats must be registered and at some point legislators—never missing the opportunity to levy a tax—decided that boat owners should pay for the privilege.

Last year I went through the arduous process of registering the boat in Utah for the first time. To my surprise, I discovered that Utah requires a separate registration for the trailer. The registration process was a hassle because I bought the boat in Colorado. In that state no title was needed to license the trailer or boat. In Utah I had to apply for titles before the boat and trailer could be registered. That required a policeman to come and inspect the boat and trailer. It took a few days and a couple separate trips to the state vehicle registration office, but I got it done.

So this was the first year that I received renewal notices for the boat and trailer. The cost to register the boat for the upcoming year was $41. The cost for the trailer is $77.50. That makes a combined total of $118.50.

That seems a little steep, but I am willing to pay my share. It is difficult, however, for me to understand why it costs nearly twice as much to register the trailer as the boat. Without the boat, the trailer is pretty worthless.

Consider this: the trailer is a 1971 model. That makes it 39 years old. So if the tax and fee were constant over that time, the state would have collected $3,022.50 so far.  That would compare to $1,599 for the taxes and fees on the boat over the same period. Of course taxes and fees aren’t constant. They were likely less in the past and will likely be more in the future. Still, it seems like a lot of money to pay for a trailer whose only purpose is to haul the boat that is taxed at a much lower rate.

While I do not understand the rationale for the discrepancy in fees, I know better than to try to argue about it with the people who handle the registrations. After all, they are only following the rules established by our legislators.

Maybe state legislators can follow the same model to bolster the waning budget coffers. How about levying a new hefty registration fee for vehicle tires? Or perhaps they could require airplane owners to have a separate registration process and an obscenely high fee for the propellers. How about a new registration requirement and fee for motorcycle handlebars?

Perhaps I was wrong in my assessment of the boat/trailer situation. Maybe charging a separate higher fee for the trailer than for the boat is genius instead of ridiculous.

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8 Responses to Fees for boat/trailer registration seem ridiculous

  1. Jim Troupis says:

    Ah, but you do pay an additional set of taxes on the tires already–they call it a recycling tax. And you pay not only a tax on the boat, but also state and federal taxes on the fuel that goes into the boat. And you pay a tax on everything you buy for the boat in the form of sales taxes. And you pay a tax on the truck to pull the boat in the form of yet more registrations and license fees. And you paid a tax on the money you used to buy the boat in the form of income taxes assessed and paid on the money you earned before you could use it to buy the boat. And when you sell the boat and trailer you will pay a tax on any capital gain. And when you die your family will pay a tax on the value of that boat and trailer in Estate and Gift taxes. And your heirs will then start paying all over again. Welcome to Obama’s America.

  2. But at least we are going to have free health care.

  3. Curt B says:

    Praise the Lord and pass the change jar…. I also just bought a boat for my family to enjoy. Thanks to Obama hiking up my taxes to pay for all of his wild spending, I don’t know how I will ever be able to take a day off work to put it in the water.

  4. Joe Whitehead says:

    LOL, this has been the general rule since Caesar. Death and taxes, we all have to pay the piper one day either way. The more modern twists are estate taxes and nickel-and-diming you to death as a 2-fer? Even that I think goes pretty far back. Egyption burials must have cost a fortune thousands of years ago even if you weren’t some powerful leader who got put in a pyramid.

    This article makes me wonder what they’d do if you had a boat that converts into it’s own trailer. Not really practical but in theory… Do we have a different ‘floating trailer’ fee schedule.

  5. Bryce DeMann says:

    Trailer fees go to help pay for road related things and boat fees to maintain lake/reservoir related. 75% of both probably go to the government infrastructure. …. But I’m sure some goes to maintaining roads, launch ramps, rec areas etc.

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