Prodded by perceived FAA failings and the threat of summer air travel delays, the Senate Transportation and Finance Committees reached agreement late last week on how to fund the FAA for the next four years. If the bill is approved by the full Senate today, it is expected to keep avgas taxes at the current rate of 19.3 cents per gallon but increase jet fuel taxes to 36 cents per gallon, up from 21.8 cents.
Judging by a recently published U.S. General Accounting Office study on the effectiveness of government support for small community air service, subsidy proponents face an uphill battle against the Bush Administration’s proposal to cut EAS funding from $113 million to $50 million and eliminate the Small Community Air Service Development pilot program for fiscal year 2004.
At the NBAA Convention last month, credit for a recent increase in used aircraft sales was frequently given to the bonus depreciation benefit that is part of the Jobs and Growth Tax Relieve Reconciliation Act that went into effect this year. “It has already been a boost to used aircraft sales, and it is going to affect new aircraft sales,” said a sales executive at the convention.
Congress last month once again extended the FAA’s current authorization and aviation taxes until December 14, making it increasingly unlikely that the question of how to pay for operating the FAA and simultaneously modernizing the entire air traffic system will be settled anytime soon.
People become packrats because they believe it never fails that they will need something the day after they’ve discarded it. Then one day they look at the bulging file cabinets and closets and decide to purge everything. Unfortunately, neither extreme is a good idea.
A one-year extension of the accelerated bonus depreciation for general aviation aircraft purchases was included in S.1637, the Jumpstart Our Business Strength (Jobs) Act, which the Senate passed by an overwhelming 92-5 vote last month. The next step is for the House of Representatives to pass similar legislation.
The Danish government is preparing to impose a 25-percent value-added tax (VAT) on imported aircraft to close a loophole that has allowed owners to bypass taxes due in other European Union countries. Aircraft imported for “personal transportation” are currently zero-rated for VAT purposes in Denmark, and this has exempted just about all aircraft applications apart from gliders and other forms of recreational flying.
General aviation late last week won a major battle, but not yet the entire war, against user fees. The House of Representatives last Thursday approved H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007, and the next morning the Senate Finance Committee drastically modified the tax provisions in its companion bill, S.1300.
With Congress out of town for its “summer district work period,” there was little action on the FAA’s reauthorization bill, and the nagging question of how to fund the agency for the next four years hung over the legislature as the September 30 deadline loomed.
Lawmakers departed early last month for a 25-day hiatus, but the rhetoric between the nation’s airlines and general aviation over user fees continued apace.
With stark differences between House and Senate versions of FAA reauthorization bills working their way through Congress, some industry and congressional insiders see little chance of an agreement before September 30, the day when current taxes and fees that support the FAA expire.