Washington State legislators estimate they can raise $8.4 million a year on an excise tax increase on general aviation aircraft. As we reported in January, a citizens' committee recommended a 1 percent annual tax on the value of an airplane (as opposed to the current $65 a year flat tax), calling it a "revenue opportunity." Washington pilots immediately rallied to oppose the tax and the State Senate dropped the proposal while the House still includes a modified version in its tax package.
The House is proposing a 0.5 percent tax on the depreciated value of aircraft less than 40 years old. Any aircraft built before 1971 would pay a flat $130-a-year tax. As "revenue opportunities" go, the aircraft tax is a relative lightweight in the package. A proposal to extend sales tax to candy and chewing gum, for instance, will raise an estimated $30.5 million. A reconciliation committee is meeting to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill.