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America Outdoors Association

June 7, 2010

America Outdoors Association Bulletin

ALERT: Charter fishermen, fishing guides, tour boats, rafting and sea kayak companies.

Some in Congress want to raise taxes on your services as you struggle to recover from the worst recession since the 1930's!

SAVE YOUR JOB! Oppose Sec. 301 in H.R. 3619 which adds new state and local taxing authority for recreational services on navigable waters.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, H.R. 3619, which passed in the U.S. House, contains a provision, Sec. 301, authorizing state and local governments to levy new "sales taxes" on goods and services on navigable waters, unless the vessels are primarily engaged in foreign commerce. H.R. 3619 passed the Senate in May without the Sec. 301 provision. The differences in the House and Senate bills will be reconciled in a conference committee soon. If the House version of H.R. 3619 prevails, new layers of taxes and fees will be levied on services on navigable waters in many states. "Sales taxes", which are authorized by the provision and were previously illegal, will be interpreted broadly by local governments, who are strapped for cash.

What you need to do. Call your member of Congress today. Ask them to keep the language in Sec. 301 out of the conference bill (H.R. 3619) that will have to be approved again by both the House and Senate once an agreement is reached. In the House bill, while vessels operated by small businesses in the U.S. would be taxed, vessels engaged in international commerce, such as some cruise ships and international charters booked in the U.S., would not be subject to the tax because the provision exempts vessels engaged in international commerce.

Contact Your Senators and Representatives. Ask them to ensure that the language in Sec. 301 or similar taxing authority is not in the final Coast Guard Authorization bill. You can reach your Congression office through the Capitol switchboard: House of Representatives 202-225-3121. Senators: 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Senators or Representative. The bill number (H.R. 3619) is the same in the House and the Senate. Key contacts: Representative Mica (R-FL), the ranking Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure committee in the House, who approved insertion of the tax authority language at the request of Rep. Young (R-AK). Others key contacts include Rep. Cummings, Chair of the House Coast Guard Subcommittee (D-MD), Rep. Jim Oberstar, (D-MN), Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

While advocates of the bill claim that "sales taxes" may only be charged where the transaction occurs, states and localities will broadly interpret this provision and no one in Washington will care. Currently, the law allows state and local fees to cover the cost of services to enhance safety or security. If Sec. 301 passes, you face an additional overlay of state and local taxes. Outfitters and guides in TN, PA, ID and AZ have succeeded in getting tax relief under the current law, which will be repealed if Sec. 301 is included in H.R. 3619.

Another overlay of taxes will be authorized by Sec. 301 in H.R. 3619, which could put thousands of people out of work. This is not the time to be adding taxes and fees on small, seasonal businesses.

CONTACT YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TODAY. Ask them to contact members of the Transportation Committees in the House and Senate to ensure that Sec. 301 (in the House bill) is not in the final version of H.R. 3619. THIS ISSUE COULD BE DECIDED BEFORE MID JUNE, so act promptly. Go to http://www.congress.org to get contact information for your members of Congress or call them through the Congressional swithboard 202-224-3121 (Senate) and 202-225-3121 (House).  Email to members of Congress do not get much attention.  You must write or call.

Charter fishermen, fishing guides, tour boats, rafting and sea kayak companies act now.

America Outdoors Association
PO Box 10847
Knoxville, TN 37939

Phone: 1-800-524-4814

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