Is it a floating house or boat? How can anyone tell the difference between the two? For one millionaire, it was easy to call it a boat once the property tax bill arrived. Lawyers are now in a heated argument over whether or not this is a floating house or a boat.
Floating house or boat?
Although it looks like a floating house at first glance, what makes something qualify as a house? A millionaire’s home in Miami’s Biscayne Bay has raised that exact question. Moreover, the lawyers representing the owner are now arguing with county officials about the answer. After the county slapped the millionaire with property tax bills, the owner discovered the county doesn’t view the houseboat as a boat.
According to Jalopnik, the Miami Herald says the houseboat or boat is known as Arkup #1. The floating house or boat manufacturer is called Arkup, and they specialize in “livable yachts” and floating islands. Jalopnik says the company’s founders see their product as a solution to climate change, among other things. Furthermore, onboard environmentally-friendly features include a rainwater collection system and solar panels.
The owner bought it in 2021, but this is the first property tax bill
British businessman Jonathan Brown’s company, MacKnight International, bought the structure for $3.3 million in 2021. Since then, it’s been floating in the bay the entire time. However, it’s taken until now for the Miami-Dade County officials to label the Arkup #1 a “floating structure.” In other words, the owner needs to pay property taxes, a bill totaling $120,000.
However, Brown’s lawyers argue against the structure being labeled as a home. According to them, the boathouse is registered as a ship with the U.S. Coast Guard. For this reason, Brown and his team have filed suit against the county, claiming the millionaire shouldn’t have to pay property taxes because it’s a boat.
What qualifies a boat to be a boat?
According to Jalopnik, the Arkup #1 just barely meets the requirements to wear the title of a boat. Firstly, the floating house can travel up to five knots per hour (5.75 mph). In addition, it has a bow deck with controls for navigation and uses 136 horsepower thrusters and an anchor system. Jalopnik spoke with someone from the manufacturer, who claimed the Arkup is the only floating house or boat getting property taxed.
“If this boat is a floating structure, that means all the other yachts docked around Palm Island and Star Island that are not used every single day to go cruising are subject to taxation.”Arkup spokesperson to Jaklopnik
However, county officials aren’t buying anything the lawyers throw at them. Instead, the county sees the floating house as a way for rich people to dodge paying taxes. Additionally, the county officials say the Arkup “was not built to be primarily used as a means of transportation over water.” Although, if the U.S. Coast Guard registered the structure as a ship, we find it hard to argue with them. While there is a fine line, and it seems like the millionaire owner knows he’s treading it, most signs point toward it being a boat. In short, it very well could be a cop-out to avoid paying property taxes, but we’re not sure county officials can stop it.
Millionaire says his floating house is a boat following property tax bill
What do you think? Is the Arkup #1 a floating house or a boat? If county officials are correct, any floating structure that isn’t primarily used for moving over water should get hit with property taxes. As the Arkup spokesperson said, loads of Yachts and other structures are classified as boats but are primarily living spaces. If you’re going to tax one, you’ve got to tax them all.