Maine Stands Fast On Aviator Tax Bills, Despite Protests

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Maine is in a "state of confusion" when it comes to imposing onerous tax bills on out-of-state aviators, say the folks at AOPA, who have been trying to reason with officials there. "There is a fundamental fairness issue here," says AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Greg Pecoraro. He has met with Maine officials several times in an effort to help pilots who have been hit with tax bills of tens of thousands of dollars after flying their airplanes into the state. "Maine Revenue Services is misapplying the law," Pecoraro said, after a Jan. 10 meeting failed to achieve resolution. Maine officials have levied a "use tax" on out-of-state pilots who fly their airplanes into the state within 12 months of buying them, if they didn't pay a sales tax elsewhere. Since some states exempt aircraft from sales tax, dozens of pilots have been assessed taxes, fees, penalties and interest. AOPA will be back in Maine on Feb. 26 for a legislative hearing on a bill that would fix the problem, AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy told AVweb this week.

The bill would grant a sales and use tax exemption to all out-of-state aircraft, regardless of where they are used, where they were purchased outside of the state, or how much they weigh, said Pecoraro. Meanwhile, Massachusetts pilot Steve Kahn, who has been told by Maine that he owes $26,000 for flying his Cirrus SR22 to his Maine summer home, has exhausted his administrative appeals and filed an appeal in state court. "Maine Revenue Services is ... arbitrarily combining statutes in the Maine tax code to suit their purposes," Kahn told AOPA. "The result is to blindside pilots with huge tax bills knowing full well that they will be caught by surprise!" AOPA is continuing to work with the Maine governor's office in an effort to provide relief for affected pilots.