AOPA challenges Maine's unfair tax system

December 13, 2007

AOPA challenges Maine’s unfair tax system

By AOPA ePublishing staff

Some aircraft owners who fly to Maine for getaways are getting a surprise in the mail—a bill for 5 percent of their aircraft’s value if they purchased it in a state without a sales tax.

AOPA is challenging the legal basis of the Maine Revenue Services’ (MRS’) overly aggressive enforcement of the state’s use tax law that changed Jan.1 this year.

“There has been no attempt to avoid Maine sales tax, because these aircraft are owned, based, and largely operated outside the state,” wrote AOPA President Phil Boyer to Gov. John Baldacci this week. “We urge you to ask your staff and the attorney general’s office to carefully review the legal analysis that was submitted to your office and reconsider and reverse the MRS current policies.”

The new law exempted large aircraft from the use tax but kept the tax on out-of-state private piston aircraft that weigh less than 6,000 pounds and spend relatively little time in the state. In some cases, out-of-state aircraft that visited Maine prior to 2007 are being targeted.

Many aircraft owners who’ve been hit with a large, unexpected bill for flying into the state before 2007 are appealing the legal basis for the tax assessment.

“The MRS is currently reviewing these matters, and may render decisions at any time,” Boyer wrote. “While these matters are being further considered, we respectfully suggest that you direct them to hold any additional decisions or enforcement actions in abeyance.”

Boyer also told the governor that the MRS enforcement policy is inconsistent with and could possibly violate the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. In addition, AOPA pointed out that several other northeastern states have recognized the economic boost to aviation that eliminating these taxes brings.

AOPA has been working with the governor’s office and state legislators to change the policy since June, when Boyer first wrote the governor about the tax problem. AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro was scheduled to meet with state officials earlier this month but was forced to postpone until mid-January because of a snowstorm in the state.

December 13, 2007