Florida Gov. signs long awaited use-tax exemption into law

May 28, 2010

Florida is once again officially open for business for the many out-of-state aircraft owners seeking to visit the state for fly-ins like Sun ’N Fun, aircraft repairs, flight training, or just for pleasure.

Gov. Charlie Crist signed House Bill 173 into law May 27, creating a permanent exemption for visiting out-of-state aircraft from Florida’s 6 percent use tax on the total value of aircraft. Under the previous tax system, out-of-state aircraft owners could be subjected to the tax just for visiting the state within six months of purchasing an aircraft, even though they have already paid the sales tax for their own state. The exemption goes into effect July 1.

“I am confident this legislation maintains Florida’s stellar reputation as a business and tourist-friendly state,” Crist said. “It is always a priority to keep taxes low and promote travel and trade in the Sunshine State. I am grateful for the hard work of aircraft owners, Representative Poppell and Senator Fasano for ensuring this bill reached my desk.”

The possibility of incurring up to a 6 percent use tax for visiting the state in a recently purchased aircraft has deterred pilots from all over the nation from visiting Florida over the past few years, even beyond the first 6 months of ownership. AOPA first encountered this issue in 2006 and has worked with the Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA), the Florida Airports Council (FAC), and key legislators to correct this unprecedented tax practice.

AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling and AOPA Florida Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes spent several weeks in the halls of the legislature in Tallahassee this legislative session, along with Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA) representative Eric Prutsman, working with legislators to resolve this issue once and for all.

 “This is a great day for general aviation in Florida and beyond. With the passage of this bill, pilots from all over the United States and the world can continue to bring their aircraft and enjoy all that Florida has to offer,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “We at AOPA will continue to work with leaders here in Florida and across the country to ensure that the value of general aviation is recognized and preserved.”

The bill passed the legislature in April, and Crist’s signature marks the final step in the process of making the exemption permanent. Effective July 1, out-of-state aircraft owners will be able to visit Florida with new aircraft for up to 21 days for any purpose, or for an unlimited amount of time within this six-month period for the exclusive purpose of flight training, repairs, retrofitting, or modification. Allowing more aircraft able to visit the state will facilitate growth in the aviation industry and improve aviation services at many local airports.

Find out more about the Florida use-tax issue on AOPA Live.