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.