February 7, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
A proposed hike in aviation registration fees would only “further depress” a tax-burdened aviation economy in Illinois, AOPA said, urging officials to reject the plan.
Illinois House Bill 4444 would double registration fees paid by aircraft owners and pilots. The bill was introduced Jan. 27 and referred to the House Rules Committee, backed by the state’s Division of Aeronautics.
AOPA is urging lawmakers to vote down the bill that could make Illinois' already aviation-unfriendly business environment even more challenging, especially by raising costs without directly reinvesting tax proceeds in its aviation system.
An undue tax burden on a highly mobile industry like aviation could drive it from the state, said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy, in a Feb. 2 letter to Rules Committee Chairperson Barbara Flynn Currie.
“Aircraft operating in the State are already shouldering combined sales and use tax burdens significantly higher than all surrounding states,” he wrote.
AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling detailed the impact of Illinois’s tax policies on general aviation. He noted that in addition to imposing some of the highest sales and use taxes on aircraft purchases—up to 10.25 percent, depending on the community—Illinois is “the sixth most expensive state in the country for aviation fuel taxes, with both a 6 percent sales tax and $0.003 per gallon excise tax.
“With pilots and aircraft owners already feeling the burden of Illinois aviation tax environment and seeing little return on their investment, pursuing additional revenue streams will only serve to further depress aviation activity and its associated positive economic impact,” he said.
AOPA is continuing to urge defeat of the fee-increase bill in discussions with the aeronautics division, and with legislators.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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