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Va. Senate Panel Rebuffs Attempt to End Yacht Tax Break

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- Virginia's yacht tax break appears safe for another year.

The Republican-controlled Senate Finance Committee killed a proposal Wednesday from Sen. Adam Ebbin to end the favorable treatment enjoyed by owners of expensive boats.

The state sales tax on watercraft is 2 percent with a $2,000 cap. That means no additional tax is imposed on a boat's value over $100,000.

Noting that yachts can cost millions of dollars, Ebbin told the committee the disparity is unfair.

The Alexandria Democrat said the wealthiest boat owners benefit the most.

Ebbin's bill would have raised the tax rate to 4.15 percent with no cap. The measure would have raised an estimated $6 million a year in revenue.

Augusta County Republican Sen. Emmett Hanger said a higher tax might drive yacht owners out of Virginia.

The committee also killed another Ebbin proposal to levy a tax on electronic cigarettes comparable to the existing tax on traditional cigarettes. The increasingly popular e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in vapor form.

Ebbin said the battery-powered devices promote nicotine addiction and have other adverse health effects.

The measure drew opposition from Altria, the Richmond-based tobacco company, which has recently entered the e-cigarette market.

In addition, the committee killed a proposal from Sen. Chap Petersen, a Fairfax Democrat, to levy a 5 cent tax on disposable plastic grocery bags in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Revenue from the tax would have been used to improve water quality in the bay and its tributaries. Retail groups opposed the measure.