Town staff is adding boat-slip owners to the list of property owners who will be assessed a business-tax receipt by the town.
Town Clerk Trish Granger announced the news at a recent Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key breakfast meeting, confirming that the business-tax-receipt list is growing for the third summer in a row.
Deputy Town Clerk Jo Ann Mixon said letters and invoices will be sent to the owners of Longboat Key boat slips July 6, which will explain that any boat slips that are used for rental purposes must be assessed a business-tax receipt.
In particular, 194 boat slip owners at the Boathouse Marina, 408 Gulf of Mexico Drive, and the 270 boat slip owners of Longboat Key Club Moorings Marina, 2800 Harbourside Drive, will be receiving letters and invoices.
The receipt is required for all Key business owners and must be renewed annually Oct. 1. The annual tax for slip owners is $103.95.
Mixon said that slip owners who don’t respond to the letter to confirm that their slip is not used for rental purposes would be added to the business-tax-receipt roll and will be required to pay the annual business tax.
Fulton Lewis, a slip owner at Longboat Key Club Moorings who rents out his slip, was upset to hear the news.
“In this economy, I think it’s outrageous for governments to be walking around trying to get money anywhere they can find it,” Lewis said.
Last summer, the Longboat Key Town Clerk’s Office sent business-tax applications and collection forms to each individual unit owner of Casa del Mar and The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. In the 15 years since the town’s business tax, formerly known as an occupational license, was created, the two resorts had never been levied taxes.
At the time, both Casa del Mar General Manager D.M. Williams and Colony General Manager Katie Moulton called the situation “mass chaos.”
Owners of both complexes received a bill in the mail for a daily-rental annual business tax of $86.10. In the past, the two managers said, just their realty offices and any respective businesses on their property had paid the tax.
Unit owners at both resorts flooded Town Hall with letters and phone calls because they didn’t believe they should be levied the tax because they didn’t operate a business.
And, in the summer of 2007, Peggy Jackson, owner liaison for Inn on the Beach at the Longboat Key Club and Resort, was alerted that approximately 221 unit owners of Inn on the Beach now had pay the business tax, as well.
Director of Longboat Key Moorings Marina Operations Dennis Matthews was surprised to hear the boat-slip, rental-tax news and worried about the reactions he would receive from the marina’s 270 slip owners.
Matthews said 25 slip owners rent their slips directly, while approximately 70 slip owners are in the club’s rental program.
“But those slip owners in the rental program don’t rent their slips full-time,” Matthews said. “I would hope there would be some leniency there.”
But there will not be any leniency, according to town staff.
“The tax is due when a unit is made available for rent,” Mixon said. “If they have signed a contract with a rental agency, they are looking for renters and are eligible to receive the tax.”
Business-tax-receipt bills will be sent out Wednesday, July 15 and are due by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30.
If unit owners don’t pay the tax in 150 days after the Sept. 30 deadline, town code states they will be liable for civil actions, a penalty of $250 and could be referred to the Code Enforcement Board for collection.
Any owners who feel they should be exempt from the business tax can also appeal their cases to the town manager.