About to tour the USA

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by alison larkman, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. alison larkman

    alison larkman Deleted User

    Hello,

    We have very enthusiastically decided to tour around the USA for a few months. Not being familiar with motorhomes I hope someone can help me with these questions.
    We will be buying a used RV -
    Is it a good idea have a US driving license?
    What is the best way to minimise the tax?
    would the noclaims bonus on our UK insurance help with the price of USA insurance
    Are there any good motorhome clubs to join over there

    and finally! we are planning to start in Florida and go to California - any good suggestions for what not to miss would be greatly appreciated:Smile:

    sorry for the long list!

    Huge thanks

    Al
     
  2. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Hi Alison, we have a few members who have done exactly as you propose, I am sure they will be able to give you some good advice. Meanwhile welcome to the Fun :thumb:
     
  3. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    Hi, can't answer most of your questions, but why not start in California and drive back east. That way you arrive in Florida ready to ship your new RV home, after all you're not leaving it there are you? Enjoy the trip be prepared to put on weight, the food is great and cheap. How about Mardi Gras in New Orleons don't miss that buy plenty of bead necklaces, hee hee. Have a great trip, wish it was me.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  4. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Short answer is no. Long answer ...

    Drivers licenses here are issued by individual states, so there isn't a "US driving license" per se. Most (all?) states recognize DLs issued by other states for visitors. Be aware that, if you apply for a license in a state, they confiscate your UK license. Unless you plan to take up residence here, you'll be allowed to drive on your UK license. California doesn't recognize an international DL, but will recognize you UK DL. The rules vary by state and you should check individual state DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) web sites. Their addresses look like: dmv.ca.gov. CA is California, and you can just substitute another state's 2-letter abbreviation.

    Assuming your talking about sales tax, there are a couple of options:

    • The easiest one is to buy in a non-tax state such as Oregon. (Lots of RV manufacturers and dealers up there.)
    • California has a legal loophole where you buy in CA, but take physical delivery in another state. You are then required to keep the vehicle out of California for 91 consecutive days out of the first 6 months of ownership. A special form has to be signed and notarised at the time of delivery, and filed with the California Franchise Tax Board. You also have to keep receipts for things like fuel and groceries to prove you actually used the vehicle out of state for 91 days, and therefore are able to prove you bought the RV for use out of the state.

    Clearly, the first option would save a lot of headaches.

    Unless things have changed recently, the answer is unfortunately no.

    Depends on what you want the membership for. If you're looking to join up with other RVers and participate in their activities, FMCA, Escapees, and Good Sam each have lots of chapters.

    If you're looking for the equivalent of AA or RAC, the best by far is Coach-Net. Good Sam also has a breakdown/recovery option.

    Depends on the time of year and how much time you have.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2008
  5. Sundowners

    Sundowners Funster Life Member

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    Hi Al

    Glad to see you made it to 'FUN' - welcome.

    We have no doubt that you will get a lot of answers from the members on this forum.

    Nigel and Pamala - Sundowners
     
  6. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Hi Allison
    We have an RV which we keep in the states and go over for 3 months at a time tour 5 or 6 states then store the RV ready for the next trip.
    We bought the RV in Florida because there are more RV dealers in that one state than anywhere else so you get a fantastic choice and can play the dealers off against each other. We also store the RV in Florida reason the weather is good so we don't have to winterise plus we can pop over for 2 or 3 weeks for a break and virtually guarantee good weather.

    Is it a good idea have a US driving license?

    You don't need a US driving license just an International Driving Permit £10 local Post Offie and your UK license.

    What is the best way to minimise the tax?

    I presume your talking about purchase tax on the RV. We set up a LLC (limited company) which is registered in Montana. The reason for this is because in Montana you don't pay purchase tax. This is a perfectly legal loophole (despite what others may say) which is available to you as a non resident. You will need to weigh up the cost against the saving though. The cost through the company we use is approx $1000 then $150 per annum, but if you introduce a new customer you get next year free. Therefore the saving on tax must outway these costs, by how much is obviously up to you. We also bought a SUV to tow and paid no tax on that either so for us the saving was substantial and well worth doing. The company we use are extremely professional very helpful and used to dealing with Brits here is a link to them customerservice@taxfreerv.com contact Rachel Jansen or John Jordan

    would the noclaims bonus on our UK insurance help with the price of USA insurance

    No help at all but again we spent ages shopping for insurance and can reccomend Garden City Insurance for RV & tow car, Montana Motor Home RV Insurance Specialists, 5th Wheels, Recreational Vehicle, Travel Trailer Insurance, Montana LLC, RV Coverage in Most States, Exotic Car Insurance, Garden City Insurance, MT contact Keith Nelson again used to dealing with Brits

    Are there any good motorhome clubs to join over there

    We only joined Good Sams decided we ccould'nt recoup the cost of joining too many as we only stay 3 months at a time.

    and finally! we are planning to start in Florida and go to California - any good suggestions for what not to miss would be greatly appreciated

    Florida is the best place to start in IMHO. Places to see far too many to even start to list. All the obvious ones but also stray away from the tourist areas go off the beaten track you'll be amazed the places you find and the things you see. We do and those are some of our most enjoyable moments.


    Extra
    Remember you can visit for 90 days under the Waiver Programme without the need for a visa and all that entails but you must leave on time and stay out for a reasonable period.

    A great tool when touring is The Trailerlife & Campground CD this lists 12000 campsites and also works out a route for you which you can copy down or print off. It also describes the site and facilities and scores them 1 to 10. This and a good map is all you need to tour USA. As for maps buy a good Rand McNally then stop at the Visitor Centre as you enter each new state and ask for a state map which they will give you free and also tell you where the best places to visit are.

    Hope this helps get you started if you need any more pm me.
    My advise go for it it's a fantastic country and touring is so much easier there than anywhere else we've ever been and the people are the friendliest we've ever met.

    We're back in November for 3 weeks then another 3 months in the spring next year.

    Good Luck
    Rory & Jan
     
  7. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Adding to Ror's answer, a major reason that folks set up an LLC in a state like Montana is that they can register their vehicle there. One-time registration fees and annual vehicle license fees are lower in Montana than many other states.

    Using an LLC to avoid sales tax in a taxing state is a new on me, and I usually tell folks they don't need an LLC to avoid sales using, for example, the second option I described. Lots of friends with LLCs either paid sales tax, or took out-of-state delivery. Here's Florida's sales tax rules, written as a guideline for sellers. Ror, somehow you managed to fly under the radar.
     
  8. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    There's nowt illegal about a Montana LLC unless a home state perceives that someone is using it specifically to avoid taxes and fees. As you correctly say Ror, this doesn't affect visitors to the US as they have no "home state" here.

    We opted not to set up an LLC, although we used the (legal for CA residents) out of state delivery provision with our coach. Knowing how predatory California can be, I was concerned that sooner or later it will catch up with folks, such as the Colorado residents mentioned in the following excerpts from the Denver Post and RV Business:

    State authorities brought civil and criminal charges against Colorado residents who registered recreational vehicles worth up to $400,000 in Montana to avoid local taxes and registration fees.

    The Denver Post reported that the offenders registered recreational vehicles only in Montana, which does not charge sales taxes on motor vehicles and has low registration fees. But Colorado residents must pay sales taxes and registration fees in Colorado, said Mark Couch, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Revenue.

    The Colorado Attorney General's Office and the revenue department working together obtained misdemeanor tax evasion convictions against 12 people living in Jefferson, Boulder, Arapahoe and Weld counties, Couch said.

    They each received deferred sentences, and were also ordered to pay restitution to the state, register their recreational vehicles in Colorado and perform community service, Couch said.

    The Revenue Department also took civil action against other Colorado residents who owned recreational vehicles registered in Montana. The state billed 122 recreational vehicle owners $2.7 million in unpaid sales taxes, penalties and interest.
     
  9. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    Sorry Tom but I don't agree.

    I did not fly under the radar and this method has been used by dozens of Brits in USA. The LLC is registered and recognised by the State of Montana is a legal entity and operating agreements, and powers of attorney must be in place. All documents must be notarized

    Sales tax liability is based on residential address of the buyer. You create a company in Montana that you wholly own. The company will then take ownership of your vehicle thereby transferring the tax liability to your Montana company.

    The vehicles both RV & SUV are owned by the LLC and I am the registered driver of said vehicles on behalf of the LLC. The vehicles are both registered in Montana and have Montana tags. The RV dealers were all aware of this system of purchasing by Brits and had no problem with it at all. The car dealer however had never heard of this method and was not happy about us not paying tax. Our agent from Montana phoned the car dealer on our behalf and went through the legalities of what we were doing. The car dealer then checked himself and was happy that it was legal and the sale went through with no problem. The agent earned several years fees alone for me with the tax saved from that one phone call.
     
  10. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Sorry Ror, didn't mean to get into any disagreement.

    Florida may well have a different set of rules for how sales tax is applied. I'll check with Florida residents who are more familiar with their tax code. This might explain some of the confusion I see when discussions of this nature come up, both online and in person.

    Here in California, as in most states that charge sales tax (except, apparently Florida and maybe others), sales tax is based on where the item is sold and/or delivered. A Montana LLC doesn't relieve the buyer of sales tax if the RV was purchased and delivered in California, nor is an LLC required in order to legally avoid paying CA sales tax.

    In our case, the only thing a Montana LLC would have done for us was save a large percentage of the registration fee and annual vehicle license fee. In order to not pay sales tax (legally), we had to take delivery out of state, and chose Nevada. One Montana LLC lawyer I spoke with face to face convinced me it wasn't worth me setting up an LLC for the same conclusion I'd already reached (mentioned in my last message).

    We've crewed on numerous boats who's owners did the out of state delivery to avoid paying sales tax. Most take their boats to Mexico and a smaller number take them to Oregon. Lots of new boat owners take delivery 3+ miles offshore (in international waters), then take their boats south or north for 90 days. One of the favorite marinas in Ensenada, 65 miles south of San Diego, is nicknamed 'the 90 day marina' because of all the boats that are being kept out of California for the first 90 days of ownership. Having seen what other boat owners have gone through first hand, we chose to pay the sales tax on our boat.

    FWIW I keep hearing rumblings that Montana legislators are starting to object to LLCs being set up for non-residents of that state, and are threatening to close the gate. I say rumblings, because they've been talking about it for a long time, and I haven't seen/heard of any concrete measures being taken.

    Slip of the keyboard in my prior message; In CA sales taxes are administered by the State Board Of Equalization, not the Franchise Tax Board. The latter handle state income taxes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 6, 2008
  11. Forestboy

    Forestboy Funster Life Member

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    No problem Tom certainly not a disagreement :thumb:

    I think the confusion is because this avenue is not open to USA residents as I believe you have to pay tax based on where you reside. However as we are not resident our address is Montana where the LLC is based so we pay Montana purchase tax @ 0%.
     
  12. TJ-RV

    TJ-RV Deleted User

    Not quite Ror. We pay sales tax based on where we buy the product, not on where we reside. If I buy something in California, I pay CA sales tax. If I buy something in Florida, I pay FL sales tax and they don't care that I live in CA. If we used a Montana LLC it makes no difference; The LLC makes the purchase, and its address is in Montana.

    LLCs are used by many folks in the USA (far more than folks from the UK).

    There's something here that I'm missing, and maybe it's simply as you say, i.e. based on country of residence. I kept thinking state of residence when I read your writings. Maybe if I down a dram or two of single malt, it will all become clear.

    Before LLCs became a popular vehicle for this stuff, folks in CA used to register their vehicles in Oregon. CA got smart and started going after these folks. A neighbour, who used to RV regularly with the guy I bought this house from, told me that CA caught the guy; He was stopped by a CA Highway Patrol and asked why his RV was registered in Oregon while his car was registered in CA. It cost him a lot in back payment of a number of years of fees and penalties. These folks can be nasty.
     
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