Are you one of the approximately 650,000 kayakers, canoers and paddle boarders that enjoy our waters here in Michigan every year?

If you are, your sport and or recreation has been growing at quite a rate here in Michigan, in fact many believe that number will increase by 7% each year.

That growth has excited the, if it moves lets tax them crowd in Michigan.

According to the Michigan Capitol Confidential news site last fall, some Michigan sheriffs began calling for a new tax on nonmotorized watercraft like kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. This new tax would amount to $10 per “craft” that is longer than 8 feet.

Michigan’s House and Senate have passed resolutions in the past that oppose what was deemed as the “kayak tax.  Sorry to tell you thought that the, if it moves tax it crowd, have not given up on getting it passed.

A Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes describes how to overcome this apparent defeat by using a different tack:

the tax-the-paddlers crowd might have a more compelling argument if the proceeds from the registration fees were earmarked for safety training

Why safety training, Mr. Howes believes if motorboat operators must take safety courses then why not paddlers.  You see this tact will attempt to make this new tax look pretty if we say that the tax will be used for safety training.

Michael Gray, the Michigan director of the American Canoe Association told the Detroit News that:

if boaters are expected to take a boater safety course … and if hunters are expected to take a hunting safety course … shouldn’t paddlers be required to do the same?

Well, let us first be honest about motorboat operators having to take safety courses in Michigan, because not all do.

As the Michigan Capitol Confidential article pointed out:

Anyone born before July 1, 1996, can legally drive a motorboat without completing any mandatory safety course. And for “personal watercraft” — jet skis, waverunners and the like — a boating safety certificate is only required for people born after 1978.

If Michigan does pass a law taxing these water crafts, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, no state requires a boater safety certification for the operation of paddle craft.

To tax or not to tax, that is the question.

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