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Washington Eyes Aircraft Ownership Tax

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Washington State aircraft owners are getting ready to fight a new tax that could add hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year to their fixed costs. State Sen. Cheryl Pflug told the Washington Pilots Association that a citizens' commission on tax preferences has recommended a 1 percent yearly excise tax based on the value of aircraft. An aircraft worth $100,000 would therefore be taxed $1,000. Pflug told the association that the commission views the tax as a "revenue opportunity" and is recommending the state legislature impose it. She urged the WPA to give her ammunition to fight the proposed tax in the form of economic impact analyses and the volunteer efforts of pilots in maintaining state-owned airports. WPA spokesman John Townsley told AVweb that aircraft owners now pay a flat annual registration fee ($65 for a piston single) and that the proposed tax wouldn't benefit aviation.

"Currently state aircraft registration fees and excise taxes collected for aircraft go to the general fund and are not reinvested in airport infrastructure," Townsley said. He also noted that aviation fuel is the only fuel that has sales tax added and that those taxes also go into the general fund. He noted that there are 138 publicly funded airports in the state with hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred projects pending.

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