PRATT – If you’re a Kansas boat owner or are thinking of buying a boat, you should know that property taxes on recreational boats have gone down as much as 75 percent since 2013. Before that, Kansas boat owners paid property taxes based on an assessed value that was 30 percent of the boat’s market worth. So if you owned a $30,000 boat, the assessed value was $9,000, and depending on the mill levee in the county you lived in, you could have paid more than $1,000 in annual property taxes.
Boats must be registered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to operate on public waters, and that registration fee is just $32.50 for three years. Since counties use KDWPT’s registration lists to assess property taxes, many Kansans opted to register their boats in neighboring states where the property taxes were much less. In fact, according to the Oklahoma Department of Conservation, more than 5,000 Kansas boats were regsitered there in 2013.
Reducing the tax rate on Kansas boats required an amendment to the state’s constitution, and the Kansas legislature put that question on the ballot in November 2012. Voters approved the amendment and a new law took effect in 2013, reducing the assessment rate in phases – 11.5 percent in 2014 to 5 percent in 2015 where it remains.
The result has been a significant reduction in property taxes on boats. Take that $30,000 boat for example. If you own that boat in Pratt County, where the mill levee is 120, you’ll pay just $180 annually.
To get the word out, KDWPT began a campaign titled: “Own It Here, Use It Here, Register It Here.” The idea is to encourage Kansas boat owners to voluntarily register their boats locally, but KDWPT law enforcement officers will also step up enforcement of the law, which requires boats to be registered in the state of principal use. Boat registration fees fund boater education programs, construction and enhancement of boat access facilities, as well as other recreational boating programs. And Kansas counties depend on property taxes to fund county services.