Prince William County is looking to reinstate a 20-year-old boat tax

Efforts by the Prince William County, Virginia Board of Supervisors to reinstate a 20-year-old boat tax were dead in the water when more than 100 boat owners and business people voiced opposition at a public hearing Tuesday night.

“Some of the clearest voices were people from the marinas. You know, these are our businesses, the economic backbones of important sections of our county, and I did hear them loud and clear,” board chair Ann Wheeler told WJLA-TV.

The board proposal to add a personal property tax of US$3.70 per US$100 assessed value on boats and trailers over US$50,000 would have raised between US$1m and US$4m for the county in 2021.

“This tax would put me out of business,” Justin Engel, owner of First Mate Marine Services told the Prince William Times.

The county is home to eight marinas that, along with boat dealers and related businesses, informed the board that even the discussions surrounding the tax have already had a negative impact on business.

“My customers have made it very clear they would not keep their boats in Prince William County,” Occoquan Harbour Marina owner Dick Lynn said, a sentiment echoed by Carlton Phillips, who owns Prince William Marina.

“I’ve already received over 12 people have cancelled their slip rental. They are leaving this county and going somewhere else,” Phillips said. “I’ve got 50 employees that are family to me, that I may have to let half of them go next month.”

Several local boat owners told the Board of Supervisors that if approved, the tax would force them to sell their boats or move them out of Prince William County.

The board agreed to remove the boat tax from the County’s budget proposal.