‘User fees’ mean double taxation and a $6 billion tax increase, Boyer tells North Dakota aviation symposium
Calling administration-proposed aviation user fees a $6 billion tax increase, AOPA President Phil Boyer renewed the association’s attack on user fees during a speech at the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium March 3 in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“Even the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee agrees that so-called ‘cost-based user fees’ are nothing more than a tax increase,” Boyer told aviators gathered for the four-day conference. “Congress has repeatedly rejected user fees and solved any FAA funding ‘problem’ by extending the current aviation excise taxes through the year 2007.”
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Archer (R-Texas) noted that the 1997 budget agreement had provided a long-term, stable resolution to FAA funding, but the “administration now wants to collect more money from the traveling public.”
“The budget calls for a $6 billion increase in airline taxes,” Archer said in budget hearings February 25. “This provision is an old-fashioned tax hike on millions of traveling Americans and I oppose it.”
But it isn’t just airline passengers who will pay the tax increase through user fees, Boyer told the North Dakota aviation conference.
“User fees will hit general aviation pilots hard, with charges for anything from getting a weather briefing to renewing a pilot certificate,” Boyer said. “User fees will affect aviation safety and discourage activity. People will quit flying.”
Double taxation—excise taxes and user fees
Starting in 2000, the administration proposes to begin replacing the existing aviation excise taxes with cost-based user fees. Existing fuel taxes would be phased out by 2003. But the plan also proposes to collect both existing taxes and additional new user fees during the 2000-2003 period, thus hitting users with an additional $6 billion in taxes.
“To make matters worse, it looks like they won’t even spend all of those additional taxes on aviation,” Boyer said.
In 2000 alone, the administration plan would collect $1.7 billion over and above revenue from existing taxes, yet according to administration budget documents, the FAA’s budget is to increase only $600 million. The rest of those new user fees would go into a vaguely defined “Transportation Fund for America.”
Boyer said that the “Transportation Fund” was an administration gimmick to fund billions of dollars in new programs while balancing the budget through tax increases.
“Do we need any more evidence of the need to free the FAA from politics?” Boyer asked. “Congress should once again reject user fees and restore the FAA to independent agency status.”
The 340,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world’s largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation’s pilots are AOPA members.
March 3, 1998