Bills aimed at removing the use tax on visiting out-of-state aircraft in Florida sailed through committee with unanimous support in the state legislature March 25.
AOPA Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes testified before state House and Senate committees in favor of the bills, which would exempt visiting pilots from a 6-percent tax currently levied on the sales price of recently purchased aircraft stopping in Florida. Committee approval in both houses is a key step forward in AOPA’s efforts to remove the tax.
“Passing this exemption could transform the message Florida is sending to the aviation community,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “Now, pilots who might otherwise come to Florida for maintenance, business, and tourism are avoiding the state altogether. Removing the threat of a hefty tax on visitors will welcome pilots – and revenue – back into the state.”
Under current Florida law, pilots landing in the state with an aircraft purchased within the six months prior to their visit must pay up to a 6-percent tax on the aircraft’s sales price. The rule is especially burdensome for aircraft registered in states with no or low sales tax on aircraft because it calls for pilots to pay the difference between their home state’s sales tax and Florida’s 6-percent tax.
The association has been working with state leaders, writing letters, and testifying before the legislature to communicate how the use tax deprives the state of revenue and economic activity. Last year’s attempt at rejecting the tax passed the House but stalled in the Senate, but this year’s effort seems to be gaining momentum.
H.B.51, introduced by Rep. Ralph Poppell (an AOPA member), and S.B.300, introduced by Sen. Stephen Wise, both remove the use tax on out-of-state aircraft for pilots staying in Florida up to three weeks. The House bill also cuts the aircraft sales tax from 6 percent to 3 percent.
As the bills pass to the next committee, they still face a difficult road to passage. Many bills may move to the back burner this year as the legislature wrestles with the state budget. But AOPA is working hard and will keep fighting to remove the onerous cost for visiting pilots.