February 15, 2010

On February 12, as state lawmakers in Washington considered a bill to hike taxes on aircraft in the state, leaders in the local aviation community, including representatives with NBAA Member companies, convened in the capital in opposition to the measure.

The proposal, HB3176, proposes a 0.5 percent excise tax on aircraft in Washington. Equally troubling, the money collected through the tax would not be dedicated to aviation infrastructure investments in the state. Furthermore, it remains unclear how collection of the tax would be managed, and whether or not the state has the collection infrastructure in place for doing so.

The controversial measure was to be considered in a Saturday hearing held by the Finance Committee in Washington State’s House of Representatives. In the days leading up to the hearing, NBAA sent email alerts to Members based in Washington, to help mobilize a grassroots response to the proposal.

Review the NBAA Call to Action: Proposed Washington State Tax Increase on Aircraft.

NBAA’s professional staff and several Member Companies were joined at the hearing by representatives from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Washington Pilots Association, the Washington Airport Management Association, and other aviation organizations. The coalition of stakeholders emphasized the negative impact the proposal could have on local businesses, jobs and economic activity in the state.

For example, Peter Anderson with Galvin Flying Service at Boeing Field submitted testimony detailing how the onerous tax would adversely affect his company and others in Washington. Chuck Kegley, coordinator for Legislative Affairs on the Board of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association, explained to Finance Committee members that his aviation consulting business existed precisely because the state had recognized the value of aviation through the aircraft tax exemption currently in place.

NBAA Northwest Regional Representative Kristi Ivey testified about the positive economic effect that business aviation has on the state, including the thousands of jobs provided by the industry, many of which could be threatened if the bill were to pass.

For the moment, the issue remains unresolved. The committee declined to call the measure to a vote in the hearing. Ivey said NBAA Members need to use the momentary pause to make their voices heard on the issue. “Now is the time for NBAA members to contact Governor Gregoire’s office and respectfully advise her staff of the business aviation community’s opposition to the proposed annual excise tax on aircraft in the State,” Ivey said. “Members should also be contacting their officials in the state legislature with the same message, because if this bill is approved by the Finance Committee, it will be considered for a full floor vote in the House.”For more information about contacting your state legislators, email Kristi Ivey at kivey@nbaa.org. NBAA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as developments unfold.