February 12, 2010
By Sarah Brown
Members of the Washington state House of Representatives looking for ways to generate more tax revenue have proposed a bill that would include a dramatic increase in the excise tax for aircraft.
House Bill 3176 would impose a 0.5 percent annual excise tax “for the privilege of using any aircraft in the state”—creating the highest registration rates in the nation for many types of aircraft. Current excise taxes on aircraft in Washington range from $35 for a sailplane or homebuilt Experimental to $140 for turbojet multiengine airplanes.
AOPA is engaging House leadership and other key legislators about the potential economic harm the tax would do, and the association will continue to be involved in the issue as it is considered in the House finance committee. A public hearing is scheduled to take place Saturday, Feb. 13 in Olympia, and AOPA will be present to testify on the potential aircraft tax increase.
The Washington Pilots Association and the Washington Airport Managers Association are also rallying local members to get involved. Local grassroots action will certainly be a critical component of this advocacy effort, yet it is crucial to stay on message, explained AOPA Vice President of Airports and State Advocacy Greg Pecoraro.
“Legislators will not be surprised to hear from aircraft owners who oppose paying higher taxes,” Pecoraro said. “So it’s key to really explain how this tax would diminish flying in the state and the associated economic activity--because that hurts the state’s bottom line, and it is all about economics right now.”
To support this message, AOPA is circulating a briefing paper among local pilots and aviation groups, businesses, and other associations that outlines the economic detriment of this proposal in preparation for the Finance Committee hearing Saturday.
The committee is not scheduled to vote on this bill on Saturday, and no additional hearings for this measure have been announced.
The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and urge government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without needing to obtain a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade.
California pilot Christopher Braun has created a revamped version of the cleco plier that is said to be lighter and more ergonomic.
There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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