After several years with the dark cloud of the Florida use tax looming over the general aviation industry, it appears that skies are finally clearing in the Sunshine State. The Florida Senate passed House Bill 173 on April 30 to exempt visiting out-of-state aircraft from the state’s use tax.
Under the existing tax system, out-of-state aircraft owners could be subjected to a use tax of up to 6 percent of the total value of the aircraft, just for visiting the state within six months of purchasing an aircraft. With this momentous bill passage, out-of-state aircraft owners will soon be able to visit Florida with new aircraft for up to 21 days for any purpose, or for an unlimited amount of time within this six-month period for the exclusive purpose of flight training, repairs, retrofitting, or modification—without fear of any use tax.
AOPA Director of State Government Affairs Mark Kimberling and AOPA Florida Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes spent several weeks in the halls of the legislature in Tallahassee this session, along with Florida Aviation Trades Association (FATA) representative Eric Prutsman, working with legislators to push the bill through both the House and Senate to take care of the use tax once and for all.
“This measure really required a lot of elbow grease with three scheduled committee stops in each chamber and a legislature grappling with a staggering budget shortfall,” said Kimberling. “Yet, in the end, we had an incredibly strong partnership with the Florida Air Trades Association and two terrific bill sponsors in Senator Mike Fasano and Representative Ralph Poppell, and together we prevailed. Florida will soon be open for all visiting aircraft owners once again – without fear of undue taxation.”
This much-needed tax correction is not just good news for new aircraft owners seeking to visit Florida, but will also provide significant relief for aviation and tourism businesses that had been suffering from lost business and revenue as a result of this detrimental tax practice.
“This is certainly a positive measure for the general aviation industry and economy as a whole in Florida—with so many workers employed in this field,” said Senate President Pro Tem Mike Fasano. “We look forward to welcoming out-of-state aircraft owners back into the state to utilize our world-class aviation businesses and facilities—and to enjoy all that Florida has to offer.”
This bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Charlie Crist in the coming days, and will officially take effect in July.