Federal Regulations


Via Maritime Executive daily e-newsletter, an update on the Coast Guard form 2692 written report (with video!). The Maritime Executive article address what the Coast Guard considers to be the obligation of mariners when it comes to reporting incidents.

When to Report (PDF) Maritime Executive

Along the same topic, via Bryants Maritime blog, the US Coast Guard issued a notice stating that, effective immediately, it is utilizing new marine casualty reporting forms. The new forms are: CG-2692 – Report of Marine Casualty, Commercial Diving Casualty, or OCS-Related Casualty; CG-2692A – Barge Addendum; CG-2692B – Report of Mandatory Chemical Testing Following a Serious Marine Incident; CG-2692C – Personnel Injury Addendum; and CG-2692D – Involved Persons and Witnesses Addendum. The previous edition of the forms may continue to be utilized until 1 January 2017. (7/1/16) [http://mariners.coastguard.dodlive.mil/2016/07/01/712016-coast-guard-releases-updated-cg-2692-form-for-marine-casualty-reporting/]. Note: Form CG-2692C and Form CG-2692D are new. It is recommended that mariners take the time to play the video accompanying the notice.

 

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From the Coast Guard, here is a link to a summary of changes to regulations, policy letters and safety alerts for passenger vessels.

Summary of changes 2016 (PDF)

Survival Craft Display at 2014 Tall Ships(r) Conference in San Diego.

Survival Craft Display at 2014 Tall Ships(r) Conference in San Diego. (Tall Ships America)

Please be aware of the upcoming changes regarding Out Of Water Survival Craft (OOWSC). The attached MSIB provides information and notification of the laws that govern the use of OOWSC on commercial vessels, effective February 26, 2016. Please note that the Coast Guard is currently developing a Policy Letter to assist with the implementation of the new requirements. The USCG stands ready assist; please contact your inspection office if you have any concerns or questions.

As a professional mariner, I much prefer Taco Tuesday to W-2 Wednesday. Nevertheless, Taxes are due on the 15th and we at Tall Ships America decided to take the time to discuss a few tax-related items before those last-minute filers submit their forms. Please note that TALL SHIPS AMERICA IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE IMPROPER FILING OF YOUR TAXES.

1. Yes, you’re a transient. But you’re still an American. Don’t attend public school anymore? Don’t stay in one place long enough to have a library card? Too young to have any hope of receiving Social Security before it runs out? Don’t use state-maintained highways because you’re always at sea? Hoping that there’s some clause that will expunge you of any tax obligations? My father says, “Too bad – you still have to pay your taxes.” Even if you’re an American working on a vessel in international waters, your earnings are still U.S. income, and must therefore be reported. Sailing in international waters or working on a foreign-flagged vessel does not mean that you are working in a foreign country and does not exempt you from U.S. income taxes. However, mariners paying non-U.S. taxes on that foreign income or mariners earning money while in foreign ports and foreign waters may be eligible for a ‘Foreign Earned Income Exclusion.’ Be warned that the conditions of this clause can be confusing, that many people have been audited for taking this exclusion, and that filing this form incorrectly can be viewed as tax evasion.

2. Deductions, deductions. Most of the time, I spend a few hours counting up every single out-of-pocket expense from the past year only to discover that I should just take the standard deduction. But, for those of you sailors interested in itemizing your every expense, a checklist by Tax Shack Inc or a worksheet created by CPA Martin Kapp may prove useful. Whether traveling to meet a ship, taking a USCG course to raise your credentials, feeding yourself on a day off, or purchasing job-related safety equipment, sailors can accrue a lot of expenses while traveling for work. Just remember that the only eligible items are the ones purchased out-of-pocket (and not reimbursed) – so no claiming those delicious hot meals that the cook provides every day!

3. Home is where the heart is? In 2013, I was hired by five independent companies, sailed on three tall ships and one racing boat, and received W-2s from four different states. It made filing my taxes a little daunting. But when I finally sat down at the computer, TurboTax threw out the most difficult question of all: What is your state of residence? Here are some suggestions from Scuttle or Swim as to how you can answer the question:

  1. When you get off of the vessel, where do you go first?
  2. Where do you own property?
  3. Where have you signed leases?
  4. Where is your family and ties?
  5. Where are your bank accounts, management accounts?
  6. Where are you registered to vote?
  7. Where are your vehicles insured?
  8. Where do you spend your time when you’re not working?

Now, this question is important, because mariners in the foreign, coastwise, intercoastal, interstate, or noncontiguous trade only have to pay state and local taxes in your state of residence, as opposed to your state of employment, and can claim nonresidency in all other states from which you’ve earned money (46 U.S. Code § 11108 – Taxes). According to the IRS, your residency can be anywhere that you intend to call home (and where you are physically present for a significant portion of time, of course). So that answers the legal question.

That said, when it comes to your personal sense of where home is, there’s a different question that I feel more accurately identifies the place I call home: Where do you wash your laundry?

4. Sources. If you still have questions, you might want to read 46 U.S. Code § 11108 – Taxes (see Subtitle II – Vessels and Seamen). Alternatively, some additional sources which may prove useful and/or interesting are below:

http://www.consultantbarry.com/merchant_mariners_qa.pdf

http://scuttleorswim.com/category/merchant-marine-tax-deductions/

http://www.mkappcpa.com/www.sailortax.com/

http://maguiretaxes.com/onward/

http://taxshackinc.com/Seaman.htm

Case of Johnson, Marin I., (2000) 115 TC 210 / Westling, Jim L., (2000) TC Memo 2000-289

MERPAC – meeting
The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet on 18-19 March in New Orleans. Topics on the agenda include: utilizing military education, training, and assessment for STCW and USCG certifications; training guidelines for mariners employed aboard vessels subject to the IGF Code; and competency requirements for vessel personnel working within polar regions. 80 Fed. Reg. 12187 (3/6/15).

MMMAC – meeting
The Merchant Mariner Medical Advisory Committee (MMMAC), sponsored by the US Coast Guard, will meet on 16-17 March in New Orleans. Topics on the agenda include revisions to NVIC 04-08 – Medical and Physical Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials. 80 Fed. Reg. 12188 (3/6/15).

From Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard announced Wednesday the publication of the final rule finalizing changes to the inland navigation rules and their annexes in 33 Code of Federal Regulations parts 83 through 88.

This action aligns the Inland Navigation Rules in the Code of Federal Regulations with the amendments made by the International Maritime Organization to the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, to which the United States is a signatory. Also, the action incorporates recommendations made by the Navigation Safety Advisory Council.

The changes to the current rules will reduce regulatory burdens by adding more options for vessel lighting, alleviating bell requirements, explaining whistle equipment options and adding more options for navigational equipment. These changes also address the technological advancements of wing-in-ground craft and increase public awareness of the inland navigation requirements by reorganizing and making format changes.

The final rule can be found at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-07-02/pdf/2014-14413.pdf

 The Coast Guard has issued the first of several bulletins discussing the implementation of the U. S. Qualified Assessor Program established in the final rule titled “Implementation of the Amendments to the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978, and Changes to National Endorsements” (78 FR 77796).

A Qualified Assessor (QA) is a person that the Coast Guard deems qualified to evaluate whether an applicant has demonstrated the necessary level of competence in the task for which the assessment is being made. For more information, read the Qualified Assessor Program Bulletin.

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