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New Hampshire’s tax ‘pledge’ comes to aviationNew Hampshire’s tax ‘pledge’ comes to aviation

In New Hampshire, “taking the pledge” not to pass new taxes or raise existing ones is a ritual elected officials have long practiced to avoid taking the plunge out of office. In June, that political reality spilled over into the aviation sector with enactment of a bill that preserves state aviation funding levels but nominally increases some annual fees—not taxes, of course—paid by owners of aircraft based in the Granite State.

Acting to finalize a compromise that likely will keep owners of the most expensive—and taxable—aircraft from moving them out of state, Gov. Chris Sununu signed into law Senate Bill 565, which rearranges the fee schedule for New Hampshire-registered aircraft while preserving the state’s $250,000 annual contribution to state aviation accounts.

Fixed-base operators and the fractional-ownership sector were prime backers of the bill, said AOPA Eastern Region Manager Sean Collins. AOPA got behind the measure after it became clear that the association’s preferred alternative—a recipe including a pinch of fuel-tax adjustments and a dash of registration-fee restructuring—wouldn’t be baked into the cake by either the Senate or Sununu.

As a result, annual fees to operate most light aircraft will increase to between about $100 and $250 per year, depending on a formula calculated by aircraft age, value, and weight. At the pricey end of the aircraft weight scale, annual fees will replace whopping five-figure first-year registration expenses—a change considered necessary to keep those aircraft from being relocated to Massachusetts, where registration fees are of the three-figure variety, and other states, Collins said.

The changes went into effect on July 1 for newly registered aircraft and renewals due after Sept. 1, 2018. For other aircraft the new system takes hold on Jan. 1, 2019.

The bottom line for owners of light general aviation aircraft, Collins said, is that the larger aircraft accounted for the majority of the revenue paid into the system by the aviation sector and losing them in a political stalemate might have dealt a major blow to state aviation funding (and by inference, matching federal grants).

“The status quo had to change,” he said.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web 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 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, State Legislation, Taxes

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