March 29, 2010

Over the weekend, the Washington State Senate refused to consider a House amendment that would have actually increased the proposed aircraft tax, at least for some owners. A conference committee will meet on the issue as early as this week.

This is only the latest twist in the controversy over the proposed aircraft tax, which is part of a larger package designed to help fill Washington State’s record $2.8 billion budget deficit. The tax on aircraft was originally proposed in early February as a 0.5 percent excise tax to replace the existing aircraft registration fee. It would have increased the tax burden on Washington State aircraft owners by as much as 1,400 percent, but the state Senate removed the provision from its version of the tax package.

On March 20, the Washington State House passed an amendment to its revenue bill, replacing the 0.5 percent excise tax with a complex tax schedule based on aircraft category, which would have actually increased the tax on some aircraft types. There was also a provision for reduced fees on aircraft manufactured in 1970 or earlier.

NBAA and Washington State groups, including the newly formed Washington Aviation Coalition (WAC), have lobbied furiously against the tax since the beginning of the controversy, pointing out the adverse effects the tax would have on businesses, jobs and the state economy. NBAA has so far issued five Member Alerts for Washington State Members, asking them to contact their elected representatives. The Association has never before issued five Member Alerts for one issue.

““This issue is critical not only for aircraft owners in Washington State, but for aviation interests in every other state,” said Kristi Ivey, NBAA northwest regional representative. “Nearly all state legislatures will be desperate to find new revenue sources in the coming year.”

She urged all members of NBAA and other aviation associations in Washington State to telephone, email or visit their state legislators and explain the adverse effects of the proposed tax. “There is no time to spare,” said Ivey. “We must defeat this anti-business tax measure now.”