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NBAA Corrects Media Misperception About General Aviation Taxes, ATC Privatization

Dec. 4, 2017

In a letter to the editor published in The (Macon, GA) Telegraph, NBAA’s Senior Vice President of Communications Dan Hubbard corrects a columnist’s recent misstatements about provisions related to general aviation in the tax bill passed by the Senate on Dec. 1. “There is no so-called ‘tax break’ for general aviation in the bill,” Hubbard said. “The fact is, the legislation simply clarifies long-standing tax law, stating that when these aircraft are operated by their owners, with the assistance of an aircraft-management company, the flights are subject to the fuel tax.”

Read Hubbard’s letter to the editor as it appeared in The Telegram.

Tax break debate rebuttal

Your recent article (Don’t call it tax reform; it’s just tax cuts) unfortunately got it wrong regarding tax treatment for the, non-airline aircraft in “general aviation,” contained in the tax proposal recently passed by the Senate Finance Committee.

First and foremost, contrary to your article’s misleading headline and claims, there is no so-called “tax break” for general aviation in the bill. The fact is, the legislation simply clarifies long-standing tax law, stating that when these aircraft are operated by their owners, with the assistance of an aircraft-management company, the flights are subject to the fuel tax, and not the airline ticket tax.

Moreover, with regard to the amount of taxes paid by general aviation, the article ignores the fact that, all around the world, it is recognized that the big airlines – not small airplanes – drive the costs for running aviation systems, so those using small airplanes pay a proportionate tax share for system use. It makes intuitive sense that a 777 going from Los Angeles to JFK imposes different costs on our own aviation system than a small twin engine airplane going from Dubuque to Grand Rapids.

So, what is the article’s focus on these baseless, distracting debates really about? In recent months, such mischaracterizations have been on the rise, as the big airlines and their surrogates push their long-standing plan, contained in U.S. House legislation, to wrest control over the nation’s air traffic control system, so they can control taxation, access and other policies to their advantage.

Unfortunately, this scheme, often called ATC “privatization,” would be a big win for the airlines, but a loss for most everyone else. Consumers, and the small communities that rely on general aviation for all manner of services, will likely be left with fewer choices, reduced competition, decreased access and higher costs for flying, as the airlines increasingly run the system for their own benefit. That’s why businesses, consumer groups, community groups and a host of other voices across the country have spoken out against the House proposal.

Instead of getting mired in these same, old, tired debates, we should get down to the business of passing legislation that secures long-term funding for continued upgrades to our aviation system, and ensures that the Federal Aviation Administration has the resources needed for its critical safety, infrastructure and other programs.

DAN HUBBARD,
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS
NATIONAL BUSINESS AVIATION ASSOCIATION
WASHINGTON, D.C.