March 20, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
General aviation’s defenders in Congress continue to speak out against tax proposals intended to further the Obama administration’s claim that the industry benefits from tax loopholes.
Two members of the House Budget Committee took on that charge during the committee’s consideration of the Fiscal Year 2014 budget resolution.
AOPA member and General Aviation Caucus member Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) said that with tax revenues at “the highest in the country’s history,” and with spending “up seventy percent more than the rates of taxes” in the same period, it was clear to voters that government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
During the Budget Committee debate, Flores—who is a certified public accountant—said that GA has become one of the popular industries to attack, but industry critics ignore the implications for the middle-class Americans who are employed to build, fly, fuel, and maintain business aircraft.
“Are their jobs not important to you? Why don’t we just park them all?” he asked rhetorically. “That way we won’t have any Americans working in that particular sector.”
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) —an AOPA member, GA Caucus member, and holder of a commercial pilot certificate—cited the example of Montgomery Aviation, fixed-base operator at Indianapolis Executive Airport, as a small business that could suffer under a proposed budget amendment to alter the depreciation schedule for business aircraft. It was that depreciation schedule that administration officials have recently described as a tax loophole.
“The amendment to eliminate the so-called loophole would change the depreciation schedule for all non-commercial aircraft (including crop dusters and single engine pistons, not just jets) from five years to seven years. This would increase capital costs for businesses and cause a drop in aggregate demand, with negative consequences for manufacturing employment and general aviation service providers,” he said in a news release describing businesses like the FBO as “the real face of General Aviation.” Subsequently, the offered amendment was defeated by the committee.
GA “contributes more than $150 billion annually to the economy and employs more than 1.2 million Americans, provides medical flights for emergency and non-emergency treatment, airborne search-and-rescue, disaster relief, firefighting, emergency evacuation, and law enforcement activities, and plays an integral role in agriculture, fishing, pest control, forestry, and wildlife management,” Rokita said.
“We appreciate the defense of GA presented by Congressmen Flores and Rokita, two avid GA enthusiasts in the House, during the House Budget Committee debate,” said Lorraine Howerton, AOPA vice president of legislative affairs. “Both leaders bring real-world experiences as pilots to the table and lend credibility to the discussion of depreciation of GA aircraft.”
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
The FAA on Feb. 23 issued a special airworthiness information bulletin recommending preflight inspection of Robinson R44 and R44 II main rotors.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) talks about the Pilots Bill of Rights II, which includes a provision to allow private pilots to fly an aircraft with up to six seats, weighing up to 6,000 pounds, VFR or IFR, without a third class medical certificate. The bill also reforms the NOTAM system, and provides more legal protections for pilots accused of regulatory infractions.
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