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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Many Utah residents are registering their expensive motor homes and houseboats out of state illegally.
Not only is that costing the state and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue, legislators were told Wednesday, but it is hard on local dealers.
Utah's sales and property taxes and registration fees make it "so we aren't competitive" in the selling of motor homes, said Homer Cutrubus of Cutrubus Motors in Layton.
"We're making criminals out of good citizens" who registering their motor homes in Montana, Oregon and Wyoming, he told the Legislature's Revenue and Taxation Interim Study Committee.
He said customers just buy their expensive motor home out of state, register it out of state and then drive it around Utah and park it at their Utah home.
Roger Smith of Bountiful said his motor home is worth about $130,000 and he paid $1,882 this year t to register it.
Pointing to an advertisement in Motor Homes magazine, he said he could hire an attorney in Montana who for $350 would create a limited partnership, just for his motor home, and he could license and register his vehicle there for only a couple of hundred dollars a year.
"I have an old friend who just bought a $400,000 motor home, and he'd have to pay $5,800 a year to register it here," Smith said. "My guess is 60 percent of the (Utah) owners of high-end motor homes are now registering them out of state, saving thousands of dollars" over the 10 years a person may own such a vehicle.
Smith, Cutrubus and Rep. Lou Shurtliff, D-Ogden, said the solution is to have motor homes and houseboats pay a property tax and registration fee based on the item's age and size, instead of its fair market value.
Such a change could mean that some small counties that see a lot of high-end movable properties in their RV parks and marinas could suffer a drop in tax revenues drop, government officials said.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)