March 22, 2010

Over the weekend, general aviation (GA) groups marked progress in the hard-fought grassroots effort to defeat an onerous new tax on all aircraft in Washington State, but a new proposal from legislators has raised alarm, and underscores the need for industry to redouble its advocacy on the issue.

On the plus side, the anti-tax coalition in Washington State cheered the removal of the proposed tax – an increase of up to 1,400-percent in aircraft registration costs – from the Senate version of a state budget plan.

However, that progress stands to be erased, in light of a proposal from House lawmakers to abandon the original tax in favor of a new, equally onerous taxation method based on a complicated chart of aircraft types and manufacture dates.

The proposed change – which has prompted an unprecedented fifth NBAA Member Alert to NBAA Members in Washington State – would actually increase the tax paid by aircraft owners on some newer and heavier GA aircraft. Under the new House-introduced proposal, aircraft owners in the state would be assessed according to a complicated chart based on aircraft type and date of manufacture.

“First, let me say that we sincerely appreciate the Washington State Senate’s action in removing the unfair, anti-business aircraft owner tax from its version of the revenue bill,” said Kristi Ivey, NBAA Northwest Regional Representative. ‘But for our Members, this new House proposal can’t be called an improvement by any stretch of the imagination.”

The previous proposal that NBAA Member pressure successfully fought was a 0.5% annual excise tax assessed across the board on all aircraft owners in the state. The new proposal would determine the annual tax by aircraft type, whether single engine fixed wing, multiengine fixed wing, turboprop, et cetera, with much lower assessments for aircraft manufactured in 1970 or before. The heaviest GA pure jet category – 85,000 pounds and over – would be assessed an annual tax of $45,000.

“This newest proposal shows no understanding of the aviation industry in Washington State, its contributions to the state’s economy, or how this tax would affect our airports, pilots and aviation businesses in the state,” continued Ivey. “NBAA Members and other aviation interests in Washington State must continue to exert polite and respectful but firm pressure on their legislators.”

The Washington State Legislature continues debating revenue proposals today ,the seventh day of a special session called by Governor Chris Gregoire.

To access NBAA’s online grassroots resources for taking action on the issue, visit the NBAA Call to Action: Proposed Washington State Tax Increase on Aircraft.