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Watercraft Taxation Amendment Passes

kansas wildlife and parksOn November 6, Kansans voted to amend the state's constitution so the legislature could address the issue of high property taxes on watercraft.

While the amendment doesn't directly change the classification or tax rate for watercraft, it is the first step in a process to reclassify watercraft and make their tax treatment more in line with surrounding states, according to a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism release.

For tax purposes, a watercraft is any boat powered by gasoline, diesel, electric, oars or sail, including sailboards, personal watercraft (jet skis), kayaks, and canoes. Watercraft are currently classified as "Other Tangible Personal Property" and assessed at 30 percent of their appraised value – a classification and rate set by the Kansas constitution. If the amendment had not passed, the legislature would not have been able to change the boat classification or tax rate.

To lower their property tax burden, some owners unlawfully register their vessels in a neighboring state. The only way county appraisers know if a resident owns a watercraft is for the owner to declare it for property tax purposes or to use the watercraft registration records the KDWPT annually sends to each county.

"We are grateful to Kansas voters for their support of the amendment, and we look forward to working with the legislature as they consider ways to create a more equitable tax structure for boats," said Robin Jennison, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, which supported the amendment. "We firmly believe that lowering the tax burden of owning watercraft will be good for Kansas and Kansas boaters."

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