How To Avoid Pitfalls When Buying Used Boats – Lake Mohave

AUSTIN, Texas — The transfer of boats and motors appears to be getting
sloppier, with more and more people not getting titles, some sellers
altering sale prices on transfer documents to avoid higher taxes and
others who are inadvertently purchasing stolen crafts. So game wardens
want to advise people to treat the buying or selling of a boat like
they would that of an automobile.

– Lake Mohave

“We see people buying boats at garage sales and receiving no
paperwork and wanting to transfer it to their name,” said TPWD game
warden Tony Norton of Henderson County. “You wouldn’t buy a car without
getting the title.”

If the seller doesn’t have a title but has proof of boat ownership,
they can request a duplicate title and then transfer it over to the
buyer. The penalty for not transferring a title is a fine of as much as
$500. And without a title, the boat can’t be registered.

It could be worse.

“What if somebody steals it? They have to come up with proof they
own the boat and a lot of them can’t,” said a member of TPWD’s Marine
Theft Unit.

Another common mistake is getting a title but not completing the
boat transfer and motor transfer forms correctly. The forms can be
obtained at any TPWD office or at
(http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/boat/forms.phtml). A separate transfer
form must be filled out for the outboard motor title. There is a civil
tax penalty and a fine for not registering and paying the sales tax on
the boat and outboard motor within 20 days of purchase.

Since boat registrations are good for two years, some people may
have boats for as long as 18 months before they try to register the
boat in their name and by then, it may be impossible to track down the
previous owner and get a bill of sale to prove it was a legitimate
transaction.

Most people don’t worry about it until the registration expires. Then they realize what a mess it is.

Another common violation is people selling boats without endorsing
the title in the first place. They thereby skip paying taxes on the
boat -another violation punishable by a fine of as much as $500.

Norton says he also sees changes made in the tax affidavit sections
on transfer forms, (title applications). “They change the price of the
boat so they don’t have to pay as much tax,” he said.

Title applications are government documents and falsifying
information or altering them for financial gain is a felony, according
to TPWD.

“Because people see boats as toys, they don’t put as much importance
on the titling process as they do with cars,” said a TPWD marine
official. “People don’t realize that when they alter documents to save
a couple hundred bucks, and those documents are presented to us and
processed a felony has been committed,” he said. And that violation is
punishable by as much as 2-20 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

– Lake Mohave

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