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Florida tax exemption not being uniformly applied

AOPA is taking action to inform members in Florida that parts and labor that go toward some aircraft repairs and maintenance in the state are exempt from sales and use taxes, as are parts purchased over the counter, according to the state revenue agency. AOPA is taking the steps to clarify members' understanding of the exemption after receiving reports that some pilots were charged tax for items made exempt by a recently enacted law.

Members should ensure that their local FBOs and repair stations are aware of the tax exemption, which applies to parts and labor for aircraft with a maximum certified takeoff weight in excess of 2,000 pounds, said Jared Esselman, AOPA director of state government affairs.

AOPA has learned that some pilots and aircraft owners "are still paying taxes and having to get refunds" from Florida’s Department of Revenue, he said.

In one case, the sale of a quart of engine oil highlighted the misunderstanding. A member reported being charged tax for a quart of oil purchased over the counter. The vendor informed the member—erroneously—that a tax exemption would have applied only if the oil had been added to the engine by a mechanic servicing the aircraft.

To clarify the situation, AOPA reached out to the Department of Revenue, which responded with a staff attorney’s letter of technical advice. The letter stated that the exemption applies to "(1) any parts purchased over the counter in Florida, (2) avionics, (3) navigation parts," and lubricants. "However, the aircraft’s certified takeoff weight must exceed 2,000 pounds and Taxpayer must document the transaction" according to a prescribed procedure, it said.

Also, a Florida Department of Revenue publication of sales and use tax aircraft information for owner and purchasers explains that "replacement engines, parts, equipment, and labor used in or for the maintenance or repair of fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft (helicopters) with a certified maximum takeoff weight of more than 2,000 pounds are exempt from sales and use tax. Dealers who make tax-exempt charges for replacement engines, parts, equipment, and labor used in or for the maintenance or repair of aircraft over 2,000 pounds are required to document the Federal Aviation Administration registration number ("N-number") and the maximum certified takeoff weight of the eligible aircraft on the bill of sale, invoice, or other tangible evidence of sale."

The letter to AOPA constitutes an unofficial opinion, Esselman said.

"However, AOPA is working with Gov. Rick Scott’s office to get an official declaration," he said, adding, "This tax exemption helps our members maintain and fly their aircraft for less money. It also helps aircraft renters who will hopefully see savings passed on to them in the form of lower rental rates."

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Taxes, Aircraft Maintenance, Advocacy

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