Picture this: You and your significant other are wrapping up a beautiful weekend on Rhode Island's Block Island. You arrived yesterday in your 1983 Cessna 172P and paid your landing and tiedown fees. You spent a couple hundred dollars on a really nice dinner and a room at one of the local inns. Now you're getting ready to fly home and the nice man from the Rhode Island Division of Taxation hands you a bill for $4,270—seven percent of the $61,000 value of your aircraft.
It could happen. It's the law. It's ridiculous. AOPA is fighting it.
Rhode Island has issued an emergency tax regulation that imposes the state's use tax on out-of-state pilots who stay overnight, land and take off in the state more than three times in a month, or fly between two or more airports in the state (there are only seven of them). AOPA has already begun to fight the measure with a stinging letter to the state's tax administrator.
"The financial implications of taxing any aircraft using a Rhode Island airport more than three times in a month or remaining in the state overnight is preposterous," wrote AOPA Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula.
"General aviation pilots flying to Rhode Island infuse tax dollars into the state every time they purchase goods or stay overnight," said Cebula. "Faced with a seven-percent use tax, pilots will ultimately choose to avoid Rhode Island."
As ridiculous as the tax regulation may sound, AOPA is taking its implications very seriously. The tax administrator's office is already exploring the possibility of making the regulation a permanent addition to the state's tax code.
Pilots who fly into Rhode Island for business or pleasure may wish to let the Rhode Island Division of Taxation know that the new regulation may force them to reexamine whether or not they really care to visit the state.