AOPA Finds New Threat Of User Fees

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AOPA recently announced that a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) titled Federal User Fees: A Design Guide is a "49-page instruction manual" that teaches Congress and federal agencies "when and how to charge for government 'services.'" While fees are not part of current FAA funding legislation pending before Congress, and the report does not target FAA funding, AOPA warns that there is no long-term protection against fees built into currently proposed FAA funding legislation. AOPA says the GAO's report shows increasing deficits based on current long-term funding solutions for the FAA. The GAO attempts to distinguish between taxes and user fees, but adds that the distinction is not always clear-cut and that when services benefit both users and the general public, both fees and general revenues should be used to supply those services.

The report also notes that the more work the government puts into trying to match fees to the actual cost of providing services, the more expensive it becomes to collect. As for AOPA, "user fees are a threat that will never die," said Andy Cebula, AOPA executive vice president of government affairs. The Association is determined to keep watch and beat that threat back as it recurs.