Rhode Island AOPA membership request to support legislative initiative for aviation sales tax relief

November 11, 2009

Rhode Island AOPA membership request to support legislative initiative for aviation sales tax relief

During the past year, AOPA has collaborated with other aviation organizations to repeal the Rhode Island sales tax on the purchase of aircraft, parts, service and maintenance. There are a number of legislative bills addressing this issue in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Finance Committees in both bodies of the legislature have held hearings on this matter with testimony provided by a wide variety of interested parties including local AOPA members. It is clear the legislature will vote on this matter no later than mid June 2004, which is the reason we are requesting help from our "grass roots" constituents to enact this legislation. AOPA members residing in Rhode Island can be very influential in enacting this legislation, if we can successfully mount a broad based campaign. We need your help. The passage of this bill will significantly reduce aviation expenditures for aircraft owners and pilots in Rhode Island.

There are a number of pending bills that will exempt aircraft and spare parts from the state sales tax, but to simplify your letters, just refer to "Aircraft & Repair Sales Tax Relief"
Senate Bills: SB 2094; SB 2219; SB 2031
House Bills:HB 7887; HB7211

Tips on preparing letters to your local state legislators

The advocacy letters that resonate best with members of the legislature make the argument that repeal of Rhode Island sales tax will lead to increased economic activity and jobs for Rhode Island citizens. The neighboring states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts have recently repealed sales tax on aviation services and equipment, which creates a natural incentive for Rhode Island pilots to have their aircraft repairs performed in those tax friendly states. This results in a loss of business and jobs for aircraft repair and avionic shops in Rhode Island, who can't compete with neighboring states. Each member can make their individual case by utilizing anecdotes from their own life experience.

Important Rhode Island representatives and senators, who can influence enactment of this legislation

Directions for preparing and mailing letters to Rhode Island House members:

Please address one letter to the Chairman of the House Finance Committee, Steven M. Costantino with copies of that letter to the other house members listed below. Your letter should specifically reference House Bills 7211 & 7897. Also, please send a copy of your letter to the AOPA Northeast Regional Representative, Craig Dotlo at 65 Altamont Avenue, Tarrytown, New York 10591. Allowing AOPA to receive copies of your letters help track grass roots support for this initiative.

Chairman Steven M. Costantino
Chairman, House Finance Committee
120 Courtland Street
Providence, RI 02909
Telephone: 401/521-1313
E-mail: rep-constantino@rilin.state.ri.us

With copies to:

Speaker William J. Murphy
Speaker of the House
323 State House
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: 401/222-2466
E-mail: rep-murphy@rilin.state.ri.us

We would also recommend forwarding a copy of your letter to the State House representative from your home district.

Directions for preparing and mailing letters to Rhode Island Senate members:

Please address one letter to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Stephen D. Alves with copies of that letter to the other senate members listed below. Also, please send a copy of your letter to the AOPA Northeast Regional Representative, Craig Dotlo at 65 Altamont Avenue, Tarrytown, New York 10591. Allowing AOPA to receive copies of your letters help track grass roots support for this initiative.

Chairman Stephen D. Alves
Chairperson, Senate Finance Committee
34 Sweetbriar Lane
West Warwick, RI 02893
Telephone: 401/828-4604
E-mail: sen-alves@rilin.state.ri.us

With copies to:

Senator Joseph A. Montalbano
President of the Senate
10 Gale Court
North Providence, RI 02904
Telephone: 401/725-8900
E-mail: sen-jmontalbano@rilin.rilin.state.ri.us

We would also recommend forwarded a copy of your letter to the State senator from your home district.

Sample Advocacy Letter

May ___, 2004

Hon. ________________
[Address]

Re: Aircraft & Repair Sales Tax Relief (Senate Bills 2031, 2094 & 2219; House Bills 7897 & 7211)

Dear Honorable ______________:

I am writing to express my support for the Bills referenced above. These bills would exempt the sale and use of aircraft and aircraft parts from sales and use taxation in Rhode Island. As you are probably aware, both Connecticut and Massachusetts have passed laws in recent years exempting aircraft and aircraft parts from sales tax. This places Rhode Island at a competitive disadvantage with its neighboring states. Not only is it less expensive to purchase and base a small aircraft in these states, but the cost of maintaining an aircraft in neighboring states is also less costly due to the lack of a sales tax. Many small aircraft owners are flying their aircraft across the state line and having service and maintenance done in Connecticut and Massachusetts due to the lower costs.

As a result of the exodus of business to other states, the availability of aircraft related services in the State is starting to decline. As a pilot [and a small aircraft owner], I wonder how much aircraft related sales tax revenue is actually being generated in Rhode Island! In addition, numerous high paying jobs are being lost to other states. This certainly results in lower income tax revenues and contributes to the decline of our State's general economic health and viability.

Small aircraft owners use their aircraft, or aircraft rented on an hourly, daily or weekly basis from local businesses much like a family automobile. General aviation aircraft are used for daytrips, family vacations and visits to friends and relatives. However, they also are used for humanitarian purposes such as flying sick or injured children and adults to medical care facilities. Many local business people use their small aircraft to make business trips to surrounding states. Unfortunately, due to the uncompetitive sales tax environment in the state, many Rhode Islanders are forced to look to neighboring states to find good quality aircraft to rent. Those Rhode Islanders who are fortunate to own their own aircraft are forced to base them out of state in order to afford to continue to own and maintain these aircraft.

General aviation contributes significantly to the local economy. GA comprises over 1% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product. Due to Rhode Island's anti-competitive sales tax laws, registrations of private aircraft are considerably lower in Rhode Island than in neighboring states on a per-capita basis. I urge you to support the repeal of the aircraft sales and use tax in Rhode Island so that the state can maintain its fair share of the revenues generated by aviation and aviation related businesses.

Very truly yours,

John Doe
AOPA Member

Cc: (Copies to other members of the legislature)
(Copies to AOPA)