What are “user fees?”
Some of our national leaders have proposed a per-flight fee, also known as a “user fee” tax, on every take-off and landing by general aviation aircraft. This proposal would devastate the businesses, farms, charitable groups around the nation that depend on these aircraft and airports, causing a ripple effect throughout the communities that depend on them, many of which do not have access to commercial service.
The language of the proposed budget reads:
“The Administration proposes to create a $100 per flight fee, payable to the Federal Aviation Administration, by aviation operators who fly in controlled airspace.”
Why would user fees be so detrimental to the businesses and communities that rely on general aviation?
If implemented, a user fee would have a debilitating effect on the entire aviation community in the United States, hindering business growth and threatening jobs and communities throughout the country.
Specifically, aviation serves as a crucial resource for small to mid-sized businesses, allowing them to reach far-off plants, serve customers and transport supplies. General aviation and local airports also serve as a lifeline to many communities in terms of medical care, disaster relief, law enforcement and many other critically-needed resources and services. Nationally, the general aviation industry supports 1.1 million jobs and supports over $200 billion in economic activity annually.
If implemented, this fee would saddle businesses, farms and groups that depend on these aircraft with an additional tax burden while they are already struggling to recover from the economic downturn. In addition, the implementation of a user fee would require the creation of a huge new bureaucracy to collect and administer an unnecessary new tax, and an administrative burden on these groups, which would have to keep track of invoices for fees for all the take-offs and landings in U.S. controlled airspace.
What about the charge that general aviation operators somehow do not pay their fair share of taxes?
This is completely untrue. Under the current system, taxes collected from both commercial and general aviation help fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund within the Federal Aviation Administration. According to FAA’s own data, the general aviation community pays roughly the same percentage in taxes as compared to usage (8.6%). The current system is also extremely efficient as operators pay at the pump, which is simple, efficient, and easy-to-use. Unlike a user fee, the current system does not require a large bureaucracy to collect funds.
Who would be exempted from the President’s proposal?
The Administration proposal reads:
“All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.”
What this means:
This means that the $100 per flight fee would apply to all aircraft operators not flying piston aircraft in controlled airspace, including many crop-dusters, and aircraft used by small to mid-sized businesses, flight schools, and charitable medical organizations, among many others.
That is why the entire aviation community, many state and local officials and other groups, including small businesses, farms, charitable groups and labor organizations strongly oppose the Obama Administration’s proposed user fee. These fees would devastate the U.S. aerospace industry, many small airports across the nation and the businesses, people and farms that depend upon them.
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