Kushell v. DNR

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In the Circu it Court for A nne Aru ndel Cou nty Case No. 02-C-03-092786 AA IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND No. 96 September Term, 2004 CHAR LES J. KU SHELL , IV v. DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOU RCES Bell, C.J. Raker Wilner Cathell Harrell Battaglia Greene, JJ. Opinio n by Rak er, J. Filed: March 14, 2005 In this case we consider whether Maryland tax liability under § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) of the State Boat Act for [t]he possession within the State of a vessel purchased outside the State to be used principally in the State requires that the out-of-state purchase have been made with an inten t to use th e vesse l princip ally in Ma ryland. We find that the plain language of the statute requires this result. Both parties to this appeal a gree that appellant Charles Kushell did not inten d, at the time o f purchas e, to principally use his vessel in Maryland. We shall reverse the Circuit C ourt s order u pholding a tax assessm ent against K ushell. I. The following findings o f fact from the Administrative Law Judge s ( ALJ s ) prop osed deci sion are n ot disput ed by eithe r par ty: 1. The Genesis is a 58-foot Spindrift Motoryacht. The vessel is documented by the U.S. Coast Guard, and bears USCG Document Number 684088. 2. Mr. Kushell purchased the Genesis in 1989 for use as [a] residence in California at a time when he was employed and living in California. The Genesis remained in Californ ia between purchase and 1996. 3. The vessel was purchased outside of Maryland. 4. At the time that it was purchased, the vessel was not intended to be used principally in Maryland. 5. Mr. Ku shell paid personal property taxes on the vessel to the State of California between 1989 and 1999. 6. In 1996, the vessel was moved from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and after 1996 was used during most of the year in Florida and Man O War C ay, Abacos, Bahamas. 7. The vess el was in Maryland for the first time for approximately a month during the fall of 1996. 8. The vessel returned to Maryland for the summer months of 1997, and for suc cessive years thereafter. 9. Mr. Ku shell registered an inf latable dingh y with a small outboard motor in Maryland in 1997. 10. The inflatable dinghy was kept during 1997 on a rack at Mears Marina in Annapolis, Maryland. 11. The Genesis was never used for a greater percentage of time in Maryland during any ca lend ar year than it was used outside of Maryland. 12. During calendar year 20 01, the vess el was in u se in Maryland waters for a period of 17 1 days. The v essel was in Marylan d from May 21 , 2001 u ntil No vemb er 7, 200 1. 13. During calendar year 2001, the vessel was in use out of the State of Maryland and out of the United S tates and its territories, for a period of 189 days. The vessel was in Man of War [C ay], Abacos, Bahamas from January 1, 2001, to May 16, 2001 and November 12, 2001 to December 31, 2001. 14. During th e year 2001, th e vessel w as not used in any other state of the United States more than it was used in Maryland. 15. Mr. Ku shell believed that so long a s he kept h is boat in Maryland less than six months per year, his boat would not be in principal use in M aryland for purposes of the State Boat Act use tax.[1] 1 Maryland s boat excise tax is imposed under § 8-716(c) of the State Boat Act, Md. Code (1973, 2000 Repl. Vol., 2001 Cum. Supp.), §§ 8-701 et seq. of the Natural Resources Article. (Unless indicated otherwise, all subsequ ent statutory citation s in this opinio n will be to Md. Code (1973, 2 000 R epl. Vo l., 2001 C um. Su pp.), N atural R esourc es Artic le.) (contin ued...) -2- 16. Mr. Kushell was told by a representative of the Department of Natural Resources ( DNR ) that he was not required to pay the tax so long as the vessel was federally documented and was used in Maryland fo r less than six months of a ny given year. 17. The application of the definition of State o f Princ ipal Us e, as employed by the DNR Boat Tax Enforcement Unit, has never been for a period of time of 6 months more or less. Instead, the application of State of Principal Use has always been for the 1 (...continued) Section 8-7 16(c) prov ides, in pertine nt part: (1) Except a s provided in § 8-715 (d) of this subtitle and in subsections (e) and (f) of this section, and in addition to the fees prescribed in subsection (b) of this section, an excise tax is levied at the rate of 5% of the fair market value of the vessel on: (i) The issuance of every original certificate of title required fo r a vessel un der this subtitle; (ii) The issua nce of ev ery subseque nt certificate of title for the sale, resale, or transfer of the vessel; (iii) The sale within the State of every other vessel; and (iv) The possession within the State of a vessel purchased outside the State to be used principally in the State. (Empha sis added.) Of the exemptions listed, the only one p otentially relevan t to Kushe ll is found at § 8-716(e)(7 ): A person is not required to pay the tax provided for in subsection (c) of this section resu lting from: . . . [t]he possession of a vessel that was purchased or acquired prior to coming into the State by a nonresident of the State and is not used p rincipally on the waters of the State and if the issuance of a title is not sough t. Section 8-716(a)(3 ) provides, in pertinent pa rt, Used p rincipally in this State means that this S tate is the state of princip al use as define d in § 8- 701(o ) of this s ubtitle . . . . Section 8-701(o) provides: State of principal use means the state on w hose waters a vessel is used or to be used most during a calendar year. -3- period of time where the boat is most used in a state in a calendar year. 18. Mr. Kushell examined th e DNR website, an d found it confirmed his understanding that he did not owe tax so long as he had the boat ou t of Maryland the ma jority of the year. 19. At all times relevant, including the present, the DNR web site contains the following text: What is meant by used principally in Maryland? A vessel is considered used principally in Maryland if it is in Marylan d the greatest percen tage of time in a given c alenda r year. 20. The definitions used for internal training by the Department of Natural Resources Division of Licensing define State of Principal Use as th e state or jurisdic tion in which a vessel is used th e greate st perce ntage o f time in a calen dar year. 21. In DNR internal training, the definition of State of Principal Use is me rely a starting poin t in the training o f personn el. 22. Mr. Ku shell relied on the DN R represe ntative s statem ent, and the statement on the website, in d eciding to k eep his bo at in Maryland for 171 days in calendar year 2001. 23. Had M r. Kushell known that he could be responsible for the tax if the boat was only used in Maryland, and no other state of the United States, he would have registered the boat in Florida and kept it in that state for part of the year. 24. At the end of the calendar year 2001, Mr. Kushell was assessed excise tax, penalties and interest in the total amount of $14,304.54. He paid th is amoun t in full on October 3, 2002, while reserving his right to challenge whether the tax wa s due. Kushell appealed the tax assessment to the Office of Administrative Hearings ( OAH ), and OA H held a hearing pursuant to § 8-716.2(e). The ALJ ruled that Kushell was liable for the tax, rejecting Kushell s contention that imposition of tax under § 8-4- 716(c)(1)(iv) required tha t an own er have pu rchased h is vessel with the intent to use it principally in Ma ryland. He also re jected Ku shell s conten tion that DN R should be equitab ly estopped, based on the statements of its web site and person nel, from collectin g the tax . He rejected Kushell s c ontention th at a vessel must spend six months in Maryland in order to be used principally in this State. The ALJ further rejected Kushell s arguments that § 8716(c)(1)(iv) was unc onstitutional, either for va gueness o r as a duty on tonnage proscribed by U.S. Const. art. I, § 10, cl. 3. The Secretary of Natural Resources adopted the entire proposed decision of the ALJ. Kushell filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County a petition for judicial review. The Circ uit C ourt affi rmed the agen cy decision, hold ing that the ALJ had construed § 8716(c)(1)(iv) correctly in findin g no requ irement of intent. The court held that the ALJ had ruled correctly with respect to estoppel, and further found that the explanation of used principa lly on DNR s website was not misleading. The Circuit Court also agreed with the ALJ s analysis of Kushell s Constitutional arguments. Kushell noted a timely appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. We issued a Writ of Certiorari on our ow n initiativ e befo re cons ideratio n by that c ourt. Kushell v. DNR, 383 Md. 569, 86 1 A.2d 60 (20 04). -5- II. Before this Co urt, Kushell argues that the State Boat Act imposes tax only on the possession of a vessel which, at the time of sale, was purchased with the specific intent of using it principally in Maryland. He argues that the plain language of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) unambig uously requires this re sult. Kushell suggests that D NR s reading ren ders the words to be nuga tory, because the meaning would not change if to be were deleted and the statute simply read possession within the State of a vessel purchased outside the state[,] used principally in the State. DNR s reading also renders the words possession within the State superfluous, according to Kushell, because any vessel used principally in Maryland is by definitio n posse ssed he re. Kushell points to cases in which we co nstrued the lang uage purcha sed . . . tangible personal property for use, storage or [other] consumption in this State, contained in Md. Code (1951), Art. 81 §§ 368(c) and 369, to require, as a precond ition for asse ssment, that a purchaser have inten ded at the tim e of purch ase to use, sto re, or consu me the pro perty in Maryland. See Comp. of Treas. v. Thompson Tr. Corp., 209 Md. 490, 495-96, 121 A.2d 850, 853 (195 6); Comptroller v. Julian, 215 Md. 406 , 412, 137 A.2d 6 74, 679 (1958). Kushell notes that Art. 81 § 368(c) was amended in 1955 to replace the phrase for use, storage or other consumption with used, stored or consumed, and that Art. 81 § 369 was simultaneously amende d to delete altogether the phrase for use, storage or consu mption . See 1955 M d. Laws , Ch. 332 a t 507-08 . We subsequently held that these -6- amendm ents made liability depend on actual use, storage or consumption in Maryland, rather than on pu rchase w ith intent to use, store or consume in the State. Lane Corp. v. Comptroller, 228 Md. 90, 92, 178 A.2d 904, 905 (1962). Kushell contends that the current language of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) is more ak in to that of M d. Code (1 951), Art. 81 §§ 368(c) and 369 than it is to the post-1 955 versio ns of those statutes. He s uggests tha t this similarity evinces an intent on the part of the General Assembly to include the same intent requirement in the present-day boat tax as was contained in the pre-1955 general use tax. Turning to legislative history, Kushell contends that an earlier proposed version of the provision that ultimately became § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) would unambiguously have imposed the tax without regard to intent at the time of purchase. The rejection of this bill in favor of the enacted legislation, Kushell argues, demonstrates a legislative purpose to condition tax liability on the purchase r s contem poraneo us intent to us e a vessel in Marylan d. See House Bill 1575 (1985) (providing , in pertinent pa rt, the own er of any vess el that has a v alid document issued by the U nited States C oast Gua rd and that is used principally on the waters of the State for pleasure shall pay a 5 percent excise tax on the gross sales price . . . . ) (emphasis added ). Kushell also notes a comparison between § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) and § 8-712.1(a)(1) of the Natural Resources Article. The latter statu te provides: An ow ner of a ve ssel that has a v alid document issued by the United States Coast G uard and that is used principally on the waters of the State for pleasu re shall apply to th e Departm ent for a M aryland use stick er. (Emp hasis -7- added .) Kushell su ggests that the variation is meaningful; that the present statutory scheme requires all federally documented vessels principally used in Maryland to display a use sticker, but imposes excise tax only on those purchased with the specific intent to make Maryland the state of principal use. Kushell also draws our attention to the Connecticut case of Magic II, Inc. v. Dubno, 537 A.2d 998 (Conn. 1988). In that case, the Connecticut Supreme Court examined the following language : An excise tax is h ereby impos ed on the s torage, acce ptance, consumption or any other use in this state of tangible personal property purchased from any retailer for storage, acceptance, consu mption or any oth er use in this state . . . . Conn. Gen. S tat. § 12- 411 (1 985). The Court up held the Deputy Co mmissioner of R evenue s interpretation that the statute required, as a condition precedent to liability, that the purchase must have been made for the purpose of storage , use, or o ther con sumpt ion in th is state. Magic II, Inc., 537 A.2d at 999 (emphasis added). Kushell argues that the same interpre tation w ould be approp riate in th e instan t case. Kushell also raises an estoppel argument. Assuming arguendo that he is incorrect about the meaning of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv), Kushell argues that DNR should be estopped from assessing this tax because of Kushell s reliance on potentially misleading statements on the DNR website concerning the definition of principal use, and because of his reliance on an -8- incorrect oral explanation of that term by a DNR clerk.2 Finally, he argues that the statute should be stuck do wn as uncon stitutionally vague, as applied either to Kushe ll or to others similarly situated. DNR argues that its interpretation of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) is entitled to judicial deference. It further contends that the statute unambiguo usly subjects K ushell to the ta x; that it is Kushell who is attempting to interpolate language by imposing an intent requirement not supported by the statutory text. DNR also suggests that Kushell s reading would render other provisions of § 8-716 superfluous. Specifically, it points to the system of tax abatement and exemption set out in § 8-716(f)3 for vessels on which excise tax has already been paid to a 2 Kushell no longer disputes that a vessel used in the State of Maryland for less than six months in a calender year nonethele ss can be principally used in Marylan d if it spends the remaining months outside the United States. He has also abandoned his contention that § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) imposes an unconstitutional duty on tonnage. Accordingly, we will not addres s these is sues. 3 Section 8-716(f) provides: (1) This subsection applies to possession within the State of a vessel if: (i) The vess el was fo rmerly: 1. Titled or numbere d in another jurisdiction; or 2. Federally documented and principally used in an other jurisdiction; (ii) The present owner has paid a sales or excise tax on the vessel to the other jurisdiction; and (iii) The jurisdic tion to wh ich the tax w as paid would allow an e xemption or credit under its sales or excise tax f or excise tax on a vesse l formerly paid to th e State. (contin ued...) -9- jurisdiction with recip roca l provisio ns. A ccor ding to DNR , this system would be superfluous if liability were dependent on original intent, because there would be no tax liability for owne rs such as Ku shell, an d thus n o need for a syste m of a batem ent. DNR argues that our interpretation of Maryland s post-1955 general use tax in Lane furnishes persuasive authority for construing the current boat tax law. It suggests that under Lane, liability under a use tax is dependent on use or possession at the time of putative liability, not o n subje ctive inte nt at the tim e of pu rchase . 3 (...continued) (2) For a vessel described in parag raph (1) of this subsectio n: (i) If the rate of the tax paid to the other jurisdiction is not less than the rate under subsection (c) of this section, the tax imposed under subsection (c) of this sec tion does n ot apply to possessio n of the ve ssel within th e State; (ii) If the rate of the tax paid to the other jurisdiction is less than the rate under subsection (c) of this section, the rate of the tax imposed under subsection (c) of this section on possession of the vessel within the State is the difference between the tax rate paid to the other jurisdiction and the rate und er subsectio n (c) of this se ction; and (iii) The Department may require the taxpayer to submit satisfactory proof of the payment of a tax to another jurisdiction and the rate of tax paid and, where applicable, evidence of principal use of a federally documented vessel in another jurisdicti on. (3) This subsection is applicable to any vessel incurring a liability for Maryland b oat excise tax on or after J uly 1, 1986 . -10- DNR criticizes Kushell s reliance on the defeated House Bill 1575 as evidence that the Legislature specifically considered a nd re jecte d a non-inten t-based u se tax on fede rallydocumented vessels brought into Maryland. It argues that the provision at issue merely was a proposal to reassign collection of Maryland s general personal property use tax, as applied to pleasure boats, from the Comptroller to the Department of Natural Resources. DNR points to the legislative history of § 8-716, highlighting language wh ich was part of House Bill 1849 (1986), but was deleted from the statute as enacted. See 1986 Md. Law s, Ch. 828 at 3177-78. That language would have provided: Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsectio n, no tax is pa id on . . . (ii.) A doc umented vessel that is purchased or acquired prior to com ing into this State by a nonresident of this State and: 1. Remains in this State for not more than 180 days . . . . DNR argues that the rejection of this language evinces a legislative intent contrary to Kushell s position. With respect to Kushell s e stoppel arg ument, DNR contends that the government may not be estopped from performing the quintessentially governmental function of collecting a tax. See Salisbury Beauty Schools v. St. Bd., 268 Md. 32, 63-65, 300 A.2d 367, 385-86 (1973). It acknowledges that agencies may be bound to follow their own rules and regulations, see Accardi v. Shaugnessy, 347 U.S. 260, 74 S. Ct. 499, 98 L. Ed. 68 1 (1954); Pollock v. Patuxent, 374 Md. 463, 467, 823 A.2d 626, 628 (2003), but denies that DNR rules or regulations ever have held principal use to require greater than six months use during -11- a calender year. It also argues that § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) is sufficiently clear to render it not unconstitutionally vague. III. This case requires us to review a conclusion of law, contained within a contested case decision by the Department of Natural Resources. Review of such a decision is governed by the Administrative Procedure Act, Md. Code (1984, 2004 Repl. Vol.), §§ 10-101 et seq. of the State Government Article. Section § 10-222(h) of the State Government Article provides as follows: In a proc eedi ng under this section, t he co urt m ay: (1) reman d the case f or further p roceeding s; (2) affirm the final decision; or (3) reverse or modify the decision if any substantial right of the petitioner may have been prejudiced because a finding, conclusion, or decision: (i) is unconstitu tional; (ii) exceeds th e statutory autho rity or jurisdiction of the final decision maker; (iii) results from an unlawful procedu re; (iv) is affected by any other error of law; (v) is unsupported by compete nt, material, and substantial evidence in light of the entire record as submitted; or (vi) is arb itrary or cap ricious. Many Maryland cases hav e set out the standard for judicial review of administrative agency decisions. W e have of ten stated that a court ordinarily will review the actions of an -12- administrative agency only to determine if its conclusions are arbitrary, capricious, or contrary to law. In reviewing factual determinations, or mixed questions of law and fact, we apply the substantial evidence standard set forth in § 10-222(h)(3)(v) of the State Government Article, reversing the agency s findings only if we hold that a reasoning mind could not have reache d them on the r ecord b efore th e agen cy. Charles County v. Vann, 382 Md. 286, 295 , 855 A.2d 313, 318 (2004); Board of Physician v. Banks, 354 Md. 59, 67-68, 729 A.2d 3 76, 380 -81 (19 99). See Bulluck v. Pelham Wood Apts., 283 Md. 505, 512-13, 390 A.2d 1119, 11 23-24 (1978). In reviewing an age ncy s legal conclusions, on the othe r hand, we determ ine under § 10-222(h)(3)(iv) of the State Government Article whether the conclusions are affected by any other error of law. Accordingly, we review de novo. Spencer v. Board of Pharmacy, 380 Md. 515, 528, 846 A.2d 341, 348-49 (2004). While we frequently give weight to an agency s experience in interpretation of a statute that it adm inisters, it is always within our prerog ative to d etermin e whe ther an a gency s c onclus ions of law are correct . Christopher v. Dept. of H ealth, 381 Md. 18 8, 198, 849 A.2d 46, 52 (2004); Balto. Lutheran High Sch. v. Empl. Sec. Adm., 302 Md. 649 , 662, 490 A.2d 7 01, 708 (1985). In reviewing the decision of an administrative agency, we evaluate the decision of the agency under the same statutory standards as would the circu it court. Spencer, 380 Md. at 523-24, 846 A .2d at 346 (2004). -13- The legal issue in this case is one of statutory interpretation. T he cardinal rule of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and effectuate the intent of the Legislature. See Collins v. State, 383 Md. 684, 688, 861 A.2d 727, 730 (2004 ). Statutory construction begins with the plain language of the statute, and ordinary, popular understanding of the English language dictates interpre tation of its termin ology. Deville v. Sta te, 383 Md. 217, 223, 858 A.2d 484, 487 (2004). In construing the plain language, [a] court may neither add nor dele te language so as to reflect an intent not evidenced in the plain and unambiguous language of the statute; nor may it construe the statute wit h forced o r subtle interpre tations that limit o r extend its applica tion. Price v. State , 378 M d. 378, 387 , 835 A.2d 1221, 12 26 (2003 ); County C ouncil v. Dutcher, 365 Md. 399, 416-417, 780 A.2d 1137, 1147 (20 01). Statutory tex t should be read so that no word, clause, sentence or phrase is rendered superfluous or nugatory. Collins, 383 Md. at 691, 861 A.2d at 732 (quoting James v. Butler, 378 Md. 683, 696, 838 A.2d 1180, 1187 (2003)). The plain language of a provision is not interpreted in isolation. Rather, we analyze the statutory scheme as a whole and attempt to harmonize provisions dealing with the same subject so that each may be given effect . Deville, 383 Md. at 223, 858 A.2d at 487; Navarro-Monzo v. Washington Adventist, 380 Md. 195, 204, 844 A.2d 406, 411 (2004). If statutory language is unambiguous when construed according to its ordinary and everyday meaning, then we give effect to the statute a s it is writte n. Collins, 383 Md. at -14- 688-89, 861 A.2d at 73 0. If there is no ambiguity in that language, either inherently or by reference to other relevant laws or circum stances, the inquiry as to legislative intent ends; we do not need to resort to the various, and sometimes inconsistent, external rules of construction, for the Legislature is presumed to have meant what it said a nd said w hat it meant. Arunde l Corp. v. M arie, 383 Md. 489 , 502, 860 A.2d 8 86, 894 (2004) (quoting Witte v. Azarian, 369 Md. 518 , 525, 801 A.2d 1 60, 165 (2002)). According to Kushell, the tax sub judice applies only to the act of poss essing, with in Maryland, a vessel which was (a) purchased outside the State, and (b) purchased with the intent to principally use it in Maryland. According to DNR, the tax applies to the act of possessing, within Maryland, a vessel which (a) was purchased outside the State, and (b) is now used, or is going to be used, principally here. Under ordinary rules of English gram mar, we find that the p lain text supports Kushell s r eading. Th e languag e of the statu te reads as fo llows: The po ssession w ithin the State of a vessel purchased outside the State to be us ed prin cipally in th e State. It does not read: The possession within the State of a vessel to be used princip ally in the S tate, purc hased o utside th e State. Nor does it read: The po ssession w ithin the State of a vessel purchased outside the State , used p rincipal ly in the Sta te. -15- Nor does it read: The possession within the State of a vessel, purchased outside the State , to be us ed prin cipally in th e State. We think these hypothetical alterations will permit the reader intuitively to grasp the meaning of the original. Formal grammatical analysis yields the same results. The issue is one of antecedents. In the original text, to be used principally in the State is an infinitive phrase. Infinitive phrases may function as nouns, adverbs, or adjectives. It is clear from the context tha t this phrase is not functio ning as a n oun, so it must be employed as a modifier. Modifiers always refer to some antecedent; the question is whether to be used principally in the State functions as an adjective modifying the noun vessel, or as an adverb modifying the parti cipial ph rase p urchas ed outs ide the S tate. 4 DNR s reading requires that vessel be the antecedent; K ushell s reading requires that purchased outside the State be the anteced ent. In ordinary usage, modifiers refer to the nearest plausible antecedent. Because to be used principally in the State occurs nearer to purchased outside the State than to ves sel, ordinary usage dicta tes that the Legislature intended purchased outside the State as the anteceden t.5 Where an infinitive phrase is used as an adverb, speakers of English n ormally 4 Participles and participial phrases function as adjectives; adjectives may be modified by adverbs. 5 We refe r to this as the n earest plausib le antecedent be cause the n earest possible anteceden t, the noun State, yields the n onsensica l result State to b e used prin cipally in the State. -16- will understand it to convey purpose. This is thus a tax on the p ossession o f vessels, bu t only those vessels purchased outside the state for the purpose of being used principally inside the State. In order to achieve DNR s reading, we would have to rewrite the statute in one of three ways. First, we could chan ge the word order to make vessel the nearest ante cedent, i.e. The possession within the State of a vessel to be used principally in the State, purchased outside the State. T his language is awkward, and in any event not what the General Assembly enacted or apparently intended. Second, as Kushell su ggests DNR s reading requires, we could eliminate the words to be. This would leave: The possession within the State of a vessel purchased outside the State, used principally in the State. This alteration would transform [to be] used principally in the State into a participial phrase. Sin ce participial p hrases ma y serve only as adjectives and not as adverbs, used principally in the State could not modify purchased outside the State. Instead, it would have to modify vessel, the nearest plausible noun. Aga in, th is is n ot the lan guage en acte d by th e Ge nera l Ass emb ly.6 Fina lly, we could insert two commas, producing The possession within the State of a vessel, purchased outside the State, to be used principally in the State. Most readers would interpret purchased outside the State and to be used principally in the State as two 6 An actor playing Hamlet w ould hardly expect his audience to accept Or not to be: that is the question as an inconsequential alteration. -17- terms in a list of modifiers, both referring to vessel. Again, this is neither the grammar nor the punctuation chosen by the Legislature. Without alteration of the statutory language, we find it inescapable that to be used principally in the State modifies purchased outside the State. Since Kushell s r eading is supported by the unadu lterated text, w e will not entertain readings which require us to add [or] delete language so as to reflect an intent not evidenced in the plain and unambiguous language of the statute, or to construe the statute with forced or subtle interpretations that limit or extend its application. Price, 378 Md. at 387, 835 A.2d at 1226. DNR argues that Kushell s reading of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) would render the system of tax abatement codified at § 8-716(f) superfluous. We do not agree. Section 8-716(f) allows a dollar-for-dollar offset of sales or excise taxes paid to other jurisdictions on vessels which have become subject to Maryland s boat tax. It is true that the § 8-716(f) abatement will be unnecessary for owners who, like Kushell, have no boat tax liability under our reading of § 8716(c)(1)(iv). But this construction hardly makes the abatement superfluous. The section will apply to owners who inc ur tax liability by re-titling ve ssels in M aryland, and w ill apply to owners who purchased federally-documented vessels in other states with the inte nt to principally use them in Maryland. Comparing § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) to Maryland s general sales and use tax, set out at Md. Code (1988, 200 4 Repl. Vol.), §§ 11-101 et seq. of the Tax General Article, is also instructive. Section 11-102(a) of the Tax General Article provides: -18- Sales and use tax imposed. Except as otherwise provided in this title, a tax is imp osed on: (1) a retail sale in the State; and (2) a use, in the State, of tangible personal proper ty or a taxa ble serv ice. We find the variation between a use, in the State, of tangible personal property, on the one hand , and the p ossession w ithin the State o f a vessel p urchased outside the S tate to be used principa lly in the State, on the other, to be meaningful. The Legislature has demonstrated that, where it seeks to tax the use of personal property without qualification as to intent at the time of purchase, it know s how to do so in straightforward language. If the Legislature had intended § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) of the Natural Resources Article to convey the same meaning as § 11-102(a) of the Tax General Article, it could have written the principal use , in the State, of a vessel pu rchased o utside the Sta te. It did not. Because we find that the plain text of § 8-716(c)(1)(iv) supports Kushell s reading both gramma tically and in relationship to other statutory provisions, we will not delve into the parties contentions regarding statutory history, legislative history, or authority from outside this jurisdiction. Neither do we reach the questions of whether DNR may be estopped from collecting the tax under the circumstances of this case, or whether § 8716(c) (1)(iv) is u ncons titutiona lly vague . The parties agree that at the time Kushell purchased the Genesis he had no intention of principally using it in Maryland. Accordingly, he has no tax liability under § 8- 716(c)(1)(iv) of the Natural Resources Article. -19- JUDGMENT OF TH E CIRCU IT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REVERSED. C A SE REMANDED TO THAT COURT WITH INSTRUCTIONS T O REVERSE THE ORDER OF THE S E C R E T A R Y O F T H E D E P A R T M E N T O F N A TU R A L RESOURCE S. COSTS TO BE P AID BY APPELLEE. -20-