Aircraft use tax repeal effort relaunched in Maine

January 6, 2011

With a new majority in place, the Maine Senate will take up a bipartisan effort to repeal the notorious aircraft use tax that can slap out-of-state owners of new aircraft with bills for up to 5 percent of the aircraft’s value.

State Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, a Democrat from Brunswick, and the Senate’s new President, Kevin Raye, a Republican, have begun work on separate drafts of legislation that would repeal the tax Maine imposes on the value of visiting aircraft weighing less than 6,000 pounds that spend more than 20 days in the state within a year of purchase. AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling had met with Raye and then Governor-elect Paul LePage this past year to discuss this issue and to urge the legislature to renew the effort to repeal this longstanding general aviation and economic impediment. 

A previous effort to repeal the tax failed in 2008 when a legislative appropriations committee seeking revenue sources to fill a large budget gap “gutted” a bill that would have exempted out-of-state aircraft owners from the use tax. AOPA reported on that effort on April 22, 2008.

In addition to deterring prospective visitors to the state, the tax is also viewed as a real hindrance to business development, including aircraft manufacturing, at a time when the new majority in both the House and Senate is extremely focused on creating a more business-friendly tax climate.

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), which has been tasked with attracting new aviation business to the now-civilian-controlled Brunswick Naval Air Station, is also a strong supporter of the tax reform.

MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque told AOPA in a Jan. 6 interview that he was optimistic about the prospects to repeal a measure that “has given quite a black mark to Maine.”

Gerzofsky, in an interview with the Brunswick Times-Record newspaper published Jan. 4, described the tax repeal as a “direct jobs creator.”

Kimberling agrees. “For several years, this particularly onerous tax policy has been an absolute competitive disadvantage for Maine as Northeastern states compete for new aviation investment and jobs in the region. There is no question that the repeal of this use-tax would provide a real economic boost to Brunswick and communities all across the state by leveling the playing field in attracting new aviation businesses—and by welcoming visiting aircraft back into Maine,” he said.