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.
Taxation in the United States
Accelerated depreciation for private aircraft became a hot topic again this past June when President Obama repeatedly cited it as a prime example of special tax breaks for the rich he wanted to eliminate.
As Congress prepared to adjourn for recess just before Easter, the House and Senate were gearing up for a joint conference committee to begin resolving the differences between two versions of a long-term FAA reauthorization bill. The two bills vary significantly, raising some uncertainties about reaching a compromise.
Operators of Bombardier jets are dismayed because they now have to pay state sales taxes on parts purchased through Bombardier’s Smart Parts program. Several operators who spoke to AIN on condition of anonymity said one of the primary reasons they participate in Smart Parts is to control and budget annual operating costs. “This adds a new dimension to overhead we didn’t budget for 2010,” one said.
A recent announcement by Bombardier Aerospace is causing a stir among Smart Parts customers. The company is going to begin charging state sales tax on all parts ordered through the hourly program; the tax is not included in the hourly program cost. The change will apply only to sales in those states that require vendors to charge tax. The exact number of states involved was not readily available but is believed to be fewer than 10.
A 21-day sales tax exemption provision for out-of-state residents bringing newly purchased aircraft into Florida failed to pass the Florida Legislature last month. The bill passed the state’s House in late April, but the Senate refused to hear the bill based upon language that “allegedly created a negative revenue impact on the state budget.”
The 2010 budget proposal for the FAA released earlier this month by the White House makes it obvious that President Obama wants a fundamental change in funding in FY 2011 by dramatically reducing General Fund support for aviation in America. The Administration proposal for 2011 envisions $9.6 billion coming from user fees–up more than $2 billion from the initial estimate earlier this year. That figure rises to $11 billion by 2014.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned last month that the excise taxes that feed the Airport and Airway Trust Fund have been lower than previously forecast, while estimates of future revenues have declined because of a drop in passenger traffic, fares and fuel consumption. Meanwhile, the uncommitted balance in the trust fund has been decreasing since Fiscal Year 2001.
In addition to the costs of acquisition, prospective buyers must consider the costs–especially insurance and taxes–they will incur once they own the aircraft. To that end, aircraft management contracts with well thought-out insurance provisions should be integral to the aircraft acquisition process, said Bill Kingsley, an account executive with the Addison, Texas-based brokerage AirSure.