BOAT TAX FUNDS ROADS
The NZ Marine Industry Association and Coastguard New Zealand are urging the Government to take a closer look at the Auckland regional fuel tax which will hit Auckland-based boat owners twice – once when they fill up their cars, and again when they fill up their boats.
The tax sees boaties paying more for their on-water recreation to fund roads and the consequences, says NZ Marine executive director Peter Busfield, go beyond introducing a barrier to recreational boating.
“While it’s clearly unfair to tax a recreational group to pay for another sector’s infrastructure, the effects will be felt far more widely than solely in boaters’ wallets. The Auckland recreational boating industry contributes [to the economy] significantly, providing jobs and apprentice training.”
The tax puts an extra burden on boaters without any mitigating factors. Such mitigating factors might see some of the funds being pushed back into marine environmental projects, boating safety or extra marine facilities. Nationwide, more people than ever are going boating yet many regions have limited boat ramps, with little car and trailer parking.
According to a recent Maritime NZ report on recreational boating, more than 1.5 million adults in New Zealand are involved in recreational boating; 37% of those are Aucklanders, with additional boaties travelling to the city from other regions. More people per capita go boating in Auckland than in any other region.
That means approximately 219,000 people are affected by the regional fuel tax as applied to boaties in Auckland.
NZ Marine estimates those Auckland recreational boat users (mostly with trailer boats) are paying regional petrol fuel tax of $5,864,0400, while diesel launch and keel boats are being charged $1,092,500. Users across the categories include powerboats, launches, keel yachts with engines, jet skis, RIBS and dinghies and 64% of them share their boating time with family and friends.
While commercial vessels can apply for a rebate, recreational users cannot, leaving the association concerned with the effect on the marine industry New Zealand-wide.
NZ Marine says the extra tax may be the tipping point which dampens new boat sales and the industries they support by making boating less affordable for the consumer – particularly in the smaller boat range.
“Getting out on the water is a national pastime,” says Busfield. “We believe it’s not in the best interests of Kiwi families to make time spent in the family dinghy, or weekends heading out in a RIB to go fishing, an unaffordable hobby.
“As an industry we strongly feel this disincentive to boaters in Auckland will have harmful and wide-reaching consequences for our member companies.”
Between central government and the Auckland regional fuel tax, Aucklanders are paying $108,000,000 in fuel tax.