Bill Would Kill Maine Plane Tax

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Maine legislators are expected to pass a bill (PDF) that will eliminate a so-called use tax on aircraft purchased outside the state but used within it for more than 20 days in the first year after the purchase. Although the current law affects relatively few aircraft, publicity surrounding a few cases of enforcement and attention from AOPA have led to a subtle but detectable boycott of Maine by some private aircraft owners. That, and the creation of an aviation business park and executive airport at the former NAS Brunswick, have focused attention on the tax and prompted bills proposed by state Senate President Kevin Raye and Sen. Stan Gerzofsky that have been merged into the current document. Steve Levesque, executive director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority (MRRA), the body charged with enticing business and traffic to the new airport, told the Times Record the bill should help rid the state of its anti-GA perception. "There's a black mark on Maine in the pilot community, that really causes us problems. It's pretty unsettling when investors and people who own property here have got to land their aircraft in New Hampshire and rent a car to drive up to their homes or businesses. It's really hurting us from an economic development perspective."

Among those who have been lobbying to eliminate the tax is Kestrel Aircraft President Alan Klapmeier. Kestrel is the first aircraft manufacturer to set up at Brunswick. The use tax was established in 2001 and applies to a variety of goods to try to prevent people from buying items that are non-taxable in other states and bringing them back to Maine. Its application to aircraft came to light with the case of Steve Kahn, a Massachusetts resident who was assessed more than $25,000 on his Cirrus SR22. Kahn, with help from AOPA, fought the tax and won his case. In other cases, however, the tax has been upheld.