Italy’s parliament passed proposed changes to the aircraft luxury tax today, according to NBAA.
Taxation in the United States
A 1996 document issued by the House Committee on Ways and Means appears to underscore the intent of Congress regarding application of the so-called “ticket tax” (excise tax) to airline passengers. The document contradicts a March 9 Internal Revenue Service memo that seeks to apply the 7.5-percent excise tax to fees charged by aircraft management companies to aircraft owners flying in their own aircraft for their own business or personal reasons.
The release of an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) memo on March 9 outlining guidance on how to apply the federal excise tax (FET) to fees paid to aircraft management companies adds to business aviation’s burden at a time when the industry continues to suffer from weak demand, high fuel prices and public criticism of this form of travel. This memo isn’t the first time the IRS has attempted to apply the 7.5-percent FET to non-commercial Part 91 flight operations.
The IRS has countersued NetJets for more than $360 million in alleged uncollected excise taxes. In November, NetJets sued the federal government for what it said were wrongfully imposed taxes, interest and penalties totaling more than $642.7 million. NetJets claimed that as a manager of private aircraft, it was not required to pay a “ticket tax” because its services were not taxable transportation.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service Office of Chief Counsel issued a memo on March 9 that justifies applying the 7.5-percent federal excise tax to aircraft management fees paid by Part 91 operator customers.
Idaho Governor Butch Otter has signed bill H.417, which exempts sales tax on aircraft parts installed on out-of-state aircraft. An emergency clause included in the legislation makes the bill take effect immediately.
With the House of Representatives scheduled to vote this week on H.R.7, a Federal Highway Administration reauthorization bill, NATA is lobbying to get a provision included in the bill that would repeal the “onerous fuel fraud tax.” The fuel fraud provision, which was included in a 2005 FHA bill, changed the collection of taxes for noncommercial aviation jet fuel and required the funds to be deposited into the Highway Trust Fund.
NBAA joined more than 60 businesses and organizations nationwide in signing a letter urging Congress to extend “bonus” depreciation, which allows for accelerated cost recovery of strategic purchases, including business aircraft. Bonus depreciation included in legislation signed into law in 2010 fell from 100 percent to 50 percent this year.
Italy’s parliament has approved plans for a new tax on all business aircraft, regardless of country of registration, as part of the effort to reduce the country’s massive national debt. Business aviation interests expect to learn the details of how the legislation will work by the end of February, but it could impose a tariff of several hundred thousand dollars on the owner of a large jet that spends more than 48 consecutive hours in the country.
The U.S. government claims that NetJets owes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nearly $643 million in federal excise taxes, assessed penalties and interest. The amount is just $125 million less than the $768 million in pre-tax earnings that NetJets parent Berkshire Hathaway reported in its last financial report for the “other” category of subsidiaries that includes NetJets, FlightSafety International and other businesses.