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Boaters Avoid Excise Tax Increase

In April 2021, as Senate Transportation leaders provided the details of their efforts to fund an $18 billion+ new-revenue package for transportation, we learned that one of the numerous taxes and revenue measures in their bill to do so (SB 5483) involved a proposed doubling of the Watercraft Excise Tax, from 0.5 percent of the value of a vessel to 1 percent. That was designed to raise between $15-$16 million per year – or some $254 million over 16 years. RBAW immediately swung into action in opposition, pointing out to legislative leaders that recreational boaters are the only type of water-, land-, or aircraft that pays a percentage-based excise tax to the State of Washington – and noting how unfair it would be to ask recreational boaters to pay twice as much when no other groups were paying this tax at all. We also noted that recreational boaters would already be paying additional fuel tax contemplated in the revenue bill, and that a recent report done by the Joint Legislative Audit & Review Committee (JLARC) showed recreational boaters pay about $17 million more in taxes to the State of Washington than they get back in services. RBAW and NMTA testified against the Watercraft Excise Tax proposal – but one of the real difference-makers was a Voter Voice “Action Alert” we triggered to you.  5,528 boaters sent some 17,472 messages of opposition to lawmakers throughout the state! Six days after the bill proposing the doubling of the Watercraft Excise Tax, Senate Transportation Committee Members unanimously approved an amendment removing it! A BIG thank you to the key legislators who worked with us on the Amendment:

Senate Transportation Chair Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens/44th Dist.)

Ranking Member Curtis King (R-Yakima/14th Dist.)

Vice-Chair Rebecca Saldana (D-Seattle/37th Dist.)

Sen. Liz Lovelett (D-Anacortes/40th Dist.)

Derelict Vessel Removal

Derelict Vessel Removal Program: This past year, we have been working on DVRP (Derelict Vessel Removal Program)  issues with the Department of Natural Resources on two parallel fronts, necessary Budget and a sustainable funding initiative for go-forward support.  


1) strong support of $5.6 million Capital Budget funding request for the 2021-23 biennium that will help address the backlog of derelict vessels needing to be removed – with as much as $2.95 million of that required to remove the Hero from Pacific County waters; and

2) a longer-term sustainable funding initiative from the DVRP to take the estimated $2 million per biennium funding up to something like $4-5 million. 

We had an initial meetings this year with DNR and several more discussions are planned, hopefully culminating in a 2022 request to the Legislature.  We have had a very positive discussion on inclusion of funding in the 2022 budget with Senate’s lead Capital Budget writer, Sen. David Frockt (D-Seattle/46th Dist.).

Homeland Security & Boating

Who would have thought that recreational boating in the great Northwest could be affected by so many changes since 9/11? To be sure, we have been impacted and the changes just keep coming.

RBAW is in full support of the boater’s role in Homeland Security and we at RBAW are doing our best to keep up with all the new rules for boaters and keep you informed. Be sure to monitor this web site often as well as web sites from other Northwest boating sources, The Waggoner ( and Northwest Boat Travel ( 

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Recreational Boating Association of Washington
P.O. Box 17063, Seattle, WA 98127
Phone: (206) 929-2757

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