Two bills aimed at removing the use tax imposed on out-of-state aircraft visiting Florida sailed through a committee in the state’s legislature, March 25.
AOPA Regional Representative Nelson Rhodes testified before state House and Senate committees in favor of the bills, which would exempt visiting pilots from the 6% tax currently levied on the sale price of most recently-purchased aircraft stopping in Florida. Committee approval in both houses is a key step forward in efforts to remove the tax, which have been led by AOPA.
“Passing this exemption could transform the message Florida is sending to the aviation community,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA’s vice president for airport and state advocacy issues. “Now, pilots who might otherwise come to Florida for maintenance, business, and tourism are avoiding the state altogether. Removing the threat of a hefty tax on visitors will welcome pilots – and revenue – back into the state.”
Under current Florida law, landing in the state with an aircraft purchased within the six months triggers a tax of up to a 6% on the aircraft’s sale price. The rule is especially burdensome for aircraft registered in states with no or low sales taxes on aircraft, because it calls for pilots to pay the difference between their home state’s sales tax and Florida’s, AOPA’s Pecoraro said.
The association has been working with state leaders, writing letters, and testifying before the legislature to communicate how the use tax deprives the state of revenue and economic activity. Last year’s attempt at rejecting the tax passed the House but stalled in the Senate, but this year’s effort seems to be gaining momentum, Pecoraro said.
As the bills pass to the next committee, they still face a difficult road to passage, he pointed out. Many bills may move to the back burner this year, as the legislature wrestles with the state budget, he said.